KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kurt Suzuki isn’t getting any younger and the Minnesota Twins appear no closer to contention than they were when he signed a one-year deal in the offseason.
That didn’t stop the veteran catcher from pushing to stick around a little while longer.
The Twins signed Suzuki to a two-year, $12 million contract extension on Thursday, ensuring that the soon-to-be 31-year-old will stay in Minnesota to continue the work he’s done with the team’s starting rotation.
“I’m happy we came to a compromise and got this done,” Suzuki said before the Twins played the Kansas City Royals. “In my heart this is where I wanted to be. I really wasn’t thinking about the open market. I was thinking about what we can do to get this done. This is my first priority, my first choice.”
Suzuki is having one of the best years of his career and made his first All-Star team, which would have made him a candidate to be traded by a team that is languishing at the bottom of the AL Central again. Good catchers who can handle a pitching staff and provide some offense are hard to find, so it’s conceivable that the Twins could have fetched some attractive young prospects from a team in the playoff race.
He is hitting .304 with two home runs and 41 RBIs and has filled in beautifully after Joe Mauer moved from catcher to first base, but the trade deadline came and went on Thursday without him going anywhere. The Twins locked him in with a contract that includes a $6 million vesting option in 2017 that triggers if Suzuki has 485 at-bats in 2016.
“We didn’t really entertain much in trade offers for Suzuki because we wanted to keep him and extend him,” Twins assistant GM Rob Antony said. “We’re happy we were able to do that.”
The news came as a bit of relief for manager Ron Gardenhire, who watched the team trade Kendrys Morales to the Seattle Mariners last week. The team also made a trade on Thursday, sending outfielder Sam Fuld to Oakland for left-hander Tommy Milone. But Gardenhire was able to keep a trusted veteran on a team that needs more of them.
“He’s a veteran, been there and done that,” Gardenhire said. “He’s a fiery guy. He has respect in the clubhouse. No doubt about it.”
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