2017 has been a resurgent season for Kurt Suzuki, as he’s been very productive at the plate as part of what’s been a very good catching platoon with Tyler Flowers. There has been plenty of speculation as to whether or not the Braves would decide to go to that well again for 2018, and it appears likely that they’ll do it again next year.
Braves beat writer Mark Bowman reported that the Braves were close to signing Kurt Suzuki to a one-year deal, then Ken Rosenthal of The Atlantic confirmed that the Braves had indeed signed the catcher to a one-year deal.
Source: #Braves sign Suzuki to 1-year, $3.5M extension. Part-time catcher made it clear he wanted to stay; talks had gone on for weeks.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) September 23, 2017
This would be a $2 million raise from the base salary that Kurt Suzuki made for the 2017 season, and you can’t say that it’s not deserved. After putting up below-average numbers at the plate for his past two seasons, Suzuki has bounced back and hit .271/.343/.525 with 124 wRC+, a .255 ISO, and 18 home runs over just 76 games played. That’s good for 2.2 fWAR, which would mark his best season since a 3.1 fWAR effort back in 2009.
All of those numbers are either career highs or close to career highs, and his power numbers are extraordinary when compared to what he’s done so far in his career. That’s to say that it would be a huge shock to me if he repeated that production in 2018, but as long as he doesn’t completely bottom out in the same role next year, then this won’t be a bad signing at all.
If anything, it outlines that the Braves’ current plan for the catcher spot in 2018 is probably going to be that they stick with what they have right now in Flowers (and Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports is indicating that the Braves are going to bring Flowers back as well) and Suzuki and give the catching prospects on the farm another year to develop.
Again, it would be a huge shock if the best current catching platoon in baseball repeated their performance next year, but they’ve at least earned the chance to give it a shot for 2018. We’ll see what happens.