Nats send Kurt Suzuki back to Athletics (Nats get pitching prospect)

A little over a year ago, the Nationals acquired catcher Kurt Suzuki in a trade with the Athletics.

Now, Suzuki is heading back to Oakland.

The Nats have traded Suzuki to the A’s, a team source confirmed late tonight, a deal that sends the 29-year-old catcher back to the team that drafted him and the only other team he’s known.

It’s unknown at this time what the Nationals will be acquiring in return.

The Washington Times first reported the Suzuki deal.

Since the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline has passed, Suzuki needed to have either passed through revocable trade waivers or been claimed by the A’s for this deal to have been completed.

A very well-liked member of the Nationals’ roster, Suzuki was added early last August for the Nats’ playoff push. With starting catcher Wilson Ramos out for the season with a torn ACL and meniscus and Jesus Flores struggling, the Nats needed a catcher who could handle a pitching staff and provide a few clutch hits toward the bottom of the order.

Suzuki did just that, hitting .267 with five home runs and 25 RBIs in 146 at-bats down the stretch, playing nearly every single day and helping the Nats to their first National League East title.

This season, Suzuki’s offensive production dipped (he’s batting .223 with three home runs and 25 RBIs in 251 at-bats), as did his playing time. Suzuki was counted on when Ramos made two stints to the disabled list this season, but with Ramos healthy, he generally wasn’t starting more than once or twice a week of late.

Still, Suzuki’s attitude and demeanor didn’t change. He remained constantly upbeat and had a great rapport with the pitching staff.

Suzuki’s three-year contract signed with the A’s before the 2011 season was set to expire after this year. He has an $8.5 million team option for 2014, which the Nats were sure to decline. The buyout for that option is $650,000, so this deal sheds some cash from the books.

The Nats gave up well-regarded catching prospect David Freitas in exchange for Suzuki last season. Ironically, this trade that sends Suzuki back to Oakland could prevent Freitas, who is hitting .303/.391/.447 at Triple-A Sacramento, from joining the A’s and making his first appearance in the majors.

The A’s are without their top two catchers in John Jaso (concussion) and Derek Norris (broken toe), so Suzuki will give them much-needed experience at that spot. Norris is a former Nats farmhand, as well; he went to Oakland as part of the Gio Gonzalez deal.

The Nats will now need to call up another catcher to join them in Kansas City, likely Jhonatan Solano, who would come up from Triple-A Syracuse.

Update: According to multiple reports, the Nats have acquired 22-year-old right-hander Dakota Bacus from the A’s in return for Suzuki.

Bacus, who spent this season at Single-A Beloit of the Midwest League, has gone 9-5 with a 3.56 ERA in 26 games (16 starts). A ninth-round pick by the A’s in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, Bacus struck out 90 and walked 38 in 121 1/3 innings this season.

Suzuki reacted to the deal on Twitter early this morning.

“Thank u nats fans for the love and support! I enjoyed every minute. First class org. It’s a business and now it’s time to go get that ring,” he wrote.

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