As the Twins begin to evaluate their options in how to tred the upcoming trade deadline, one of their more valuable trade chips lives in murkier waters than the others. Kurt Suzuki, in the midst of a career year at age 30, is a player that the Twins are interested in keeping around. Except the two sides aren't close on terms.
According to two people with direct knowledge, the Twins and Dan Lozano, Suzuki's agent, had exploratory talks about extending the catcher's expiring contract. Establishing fair contract parameters, however, appears to be a challenge as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaches.
It's a difficult situation for the Twins and for Suzuki. From Minnesota's perspective, extending a 30-year old catcher who has never been better than he is right now means buying high, and considering the player's floor - or even just his career averages as a base line - that's a risky proposition. Suzuki, meanwhile, obviously wants to get paid as much as possible based off of a good year. And who can blame him? Every player wants a new contract when they're producing at their peak.
Ryan Hanigan, a catcher for Tampa Bay, signed a three-year extension in March of 2013. Hanigan, then 32, is a career .257/.354/.342 hitter, and his three-year extension is worth $10.75 million dollars. Suzuki, two years younger than Hanigan in the year of a potential extension, is a .258/.315/.377 hitter in his career. Which means the two players are within .003 OPS points of each other. We may not have a better comp than that.
Chris Iannetta, in May of 2012, signed a three-year extension with the Angels after being traded to Los Angeles by Colorado. He was in his age-29 season, is a better hitter, and came away with a three-year, $15.55 million dollar contract. Jeff Mathis, meanwhile, is a worse hitter than Suzuki, and in his age-29 season of 2012 signed a two-year, $3 million dollar deal.
It's reasonable to think that Suzuki's camp wants a longer contract and more money per season. Based off of the above, can we determine what's fair? Just using Hanigan as an example, it's reasonable to expect that Suzuki's agent, Dan Lozano, is in the same ballpark. I'd be surprised if the Twins were interested in anything longer than a two-year extension. In either case, $4 million per season seems fair. If the Twins are coming in much lower or if Lozano is coming in much higher, it's easy to see why the two sides wouldn't be matching up.
Still, this isn't a 25-year old catcher with potentially multiple All-Star appearances on the horizon. The money can only go so far in either direction. If both sides want something to get done, there's no reason why it won't. The only question is: would it be the right move for the Twins to make?