By Scott Barzilla

It looks like waiver trades are occurring earlier and earlier than before. On the same afternoon that saw Cliff Lee claimed and Joe Blanton traded to the Dodgers, the Nationals acquired a veteran catcher to support Jesus Flores. Suzuki was deemed expendable by the Athletics following the promotion of Derek Norris and trade for George Kotteras. Moving Suzuki allows the Athletics to cut five million dollars from their 2013 payroll.

The A’s are in a very critical position right now. On the one hand, they stand in second place in the AL West and are currently in position to be the second wild card in the American League. On the other hand, their stadium situation is in a tenuous state. They want to build a new stadium in San Jose, but San Jose is technically in the Giants territory. They are not inclined to allow the A’s to move to that area, so they are stuck in limbo.

If the A’s cannot move outside of Oakland Coliseum they will not be able to compete financially with the rest of the teams in the American League. Suzuki is still a good defensive catcher and an excellent handler of pitchers, but his offense has gone south the last couple of seasons. At five million dollars (plus a team option for 2014), he became too expensive to keep around for Oakland. It’s not that they couldn’t afford him per se, but an expensive backup catcher is a luxury.  That five million could be spent on a starting pitcher or an everyday player.

The Washington Nationals needed more catching help on the other hand. Suzuki is easily capable of catching between 50 and 100 games and that might be needed if Wilson Ramos struggles from ACL surgery. You never know what can happen when you change teams and change leagues. Maybe he rediscovers the bat that had him as one of the more underrated catchers in 2009 and 2010.

The Astros and Athletics made a couple of minor league deals where they added Garrett Mock to their Oklahoma City roster and the Athletics added Pat Neshek to their bullpen. Both players have big league experience, but they have spent all of 2012 in the minor leagues. There is no deadline associated with those players, so teams can continue to deal all the way up until the end of the season as long as no one on the big league roster is involved.

The Astros also announced that they acquired Chris Devenski to complete the Brett Myers deal with the White Sox. Devenski was selected in the 25th round in the 2011 draft, but did not sign until August, so he could not be included in the deal on the day the deal was struck. He has been solid in A ball for the White Sox. He had a 4.23 ERA with 7.9 strikeouts per nine innings and 2.8 walks per nine innings. He will either be assigned to Lexington or Lancaster.

 

Scott Barzilla

Scott Barzilla is the editor in chief at hardballchat.com. He is also the author of four books, including The Hall of Fame Index. The Hall of Fame Index was nominated for the Sporting News Award for statistical innovation in 2011.

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