Earlier today, the Twins landed another one of their off-season goals by signing catcher Kurt Suzuki to a one-year, $2.75 million dollar contract. Suzuki will be expected to backup 25-year old Josmil Pinto, who is a bit of a question mark in spite of his success at the Major and Minor League levels and who is also stepping into the most unwanted job with the Twins since Kirby Puckett vacated center field.
Suzuki won't offer much in the way of offense, but as the free agent market sits for catchers he rates pretty solidly on the defensive side of the equation. He was better than average at blocking pitches last season and was right around league average in pitch framing this past year, and that also bears out over the last few years as friend of Twinkie Town Parker Hageman points out.
In-Zone Called Strike% Frame(2008-13): Lucroy 84.8% (1st) MLB Avg 79.1% J.Mauer 78% (39th) Suzuki 77.1% (52nd) Doumit 72.6% (66th last)— Parker Hageman (@ParkerHageman) December 20, 2013
Taking his defense into account, Suzuki should be expected to provide positive value to the team. He's likely to fall in the 0.5 to 1.0 wins above replacement range.
With the addition of Suzuki as the backup catcher, Minnesota's off-season shopping list is one step closer to being complete. There is still interest in a starting pitcher, and the team will still look for ways to strengthen the lineup - probably via bench help - but it seems that free agency is less likely to yield those results than a trade. And trades are a different animal in terms of finding the right fit going both ways.
Welcome to Minnesota, Kurt. Pack warm clothes.