Rizzo flips Suzuki and DeJesus for pitching prospects
Catcher headed back to Oakland; outfielder goes to Tampa Bay
KANSAS CITY -- The Nationals kept themselves busy the last two days, trading catcher Kurt Suzuki to the A's for Minor League right-hander Dakota Bacus late Thursday night.
Early Friday morning, the Nationals traded outfielder David DeJesus for a player to be named later or cash. The Nationals have their eyes on two Minor League pitchers from Tampa Bay, but Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo didn't name the players. An announcement is expected to be made after the Minor League season concludes.
Suzuki found out he was traded while the Nationals were headed to the airport in Chicago after defeating the Cubs, 5-4, on Thursday. After having a long talk with Rizzo, Suzuki said goodbye to the team. Rizzo called the moment "pretty touching."
"Suzuki was one of my favorites in the clubhouse," Rizzo said. "That's a loss in the clubhouse. [He is] a personality and a makeup character guy that we knew we were acquiring and we knew we were giving it up when we traded him."
Suzuki started the season splitting catching duties with Wilson Ramos, but Suzuki became the Nationals' backup after the All-Star break after Ramos returned from his second disabled-list stint and showed consistency with the bat. In 78 games with the Nats this season, Suzuki hit .223 with three home runs and 25 RBIs.
"Wilson has kind of taken over that everyday spot. He wants to be that guy that plays each and every game," Rizzo said. "Being that we have [Jhonatan] Solano as a very capable Major League player, we thought it was a good opportunity for us to forgo four weeks of Suzuki and get ourselves a prospect out of it."
Washington acquired Suzuki from Oakland on Aug. 3, 2012, for Minor League catcher David Freitas. The Nationals were unhappy with Jesus Flores behind the plate and, with Ramos out with a knee injury, Suzuki became the team's No. 1 catcher for the rest of the season.
On his Twitter account, Suzuki said, "Thank u Nats fans for the love and support! I enjoyed every minute. First class [organization]. It's a business and now it's time to go get that ring. Hello Oakland! Pumped to be back and ready to go make a run at this. Let's do this!!!!!"
Suzuki's addition will be welcomed with the A's. John Jaso is on the disabled list with concussion issues and may not return this seaosn, and former Nationals prospect Derek Norris broke his left big toe on Tuesday, leaving Stephen Vogt as the only healthy catcher on Oakland's 40-man roster.
To replace Suzuki on the roster, the Nats called up Solano, who will be making his third stint in the big leagues this year. In his first stint, Solano played 16 games and went 6-for-36 (.167) with two RBIs.
Solano will get a chance to prove that he should be the backup catcher for next year.
"He is going to have every opportunity to [be the backup catcher]," Rizzo said. "We've liked him for a long time. His skill set really fits what we are trying to do here. He is one of our own and really knows the Nationals way of doing thing and he knows the entire pitching staff."
Bacus was drafted by Oakland in the ninth round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft. He was 9-5 with a 3.56 ERA for Class A Beloit this year as a reliever and starter. Bacus will report to Class A Hagerstown. The Nationals are thinking about making him strictly a starter.
"We have strong reports on him the last three seasons [dating back to when Bacus was playing for Indiana State University]," Rizzo said. "Our scouts like his pitch ability, he's got upside. He was a starter they made a reliever."
After trading DeJesus, Rizzo said he wouldn't mind having him back on the team if the Rays don't pick up his option, which is worth $6 million.
"We would have interest in acquiring him. I told him as much when I talked to him this morning when he was headed to Tampa," Rizzo said.
The deal came four days after Washington acquired DeJesus from the Cubs for a player to be named or cash.
After DeJesus joined the Nationals, he was put on waivers almost immediately, knowing teams wanted DeJesus' services. The Rays claimed DeJesus on Thursday. The Rays will pay the rest of DeJesus's salary, while the Nationals figure which Minor League pitcher they will take. They are both 22 years old, according to Rizzo.
The Nats called up left-hander Xavier Cedeno from Triple-A to fill DeJesus' roster spot. Washington claimed the 26-year-old off waivers in April after he began the season with the Astros. He's appeared in seven big league games between the two clubs this season, posting a 9.39 ERA in 7 2/3 innings.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashinNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.