Veteran catcher Kurt Suzuki was asked what if anything he was told about his role, and how many games he’ll start in 2019, when he spoke to reporters after signing a 2-year/$10M free agent deal with Washington last week.
“[Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo] told my agent from Day 1 that I’m their guy,” Suzuki said.
“Whether I’m a guy that catches 120 games or 90 games or whatever they want me to do, you know, I just told them I’ll be ready to do whatever you want and [Rizzo] said I’m going to play, obviously, but I just said whatever you need me to do. So whether that’s 80-90-100-120, it really doesn’t matter to me, so I’m just trying to help the team win and see how it goes.”
Multiple reports last week said the Nationals were once again discussing a potential deal for J.T. Realmuto with Miami’s Marlins this winter, but when the ask was for Victor Robles (plus more) they’d moved on to Suzuki to make sure they weren’t, “left with nothing at a position where they had a need,” as Boston Globe columnist Nick Cafardo put it this past weekend.
“I think in this point of my career, my ego, I’ve got no ego,” Suzuki said when asked if he knew if the Nats were still in the catching market.
“I’ve never had an ego, it was just to the point where [Rizzo] said I’m the guy.
“Whether it’s I’m a guy that’s going to catch 50 games, or I’m a guy that’s going to catch 120 games, he made it clear that he’s going to bring me in to help the team win and that’s the bottom line.”
Suzuki’s teammate back in 2012, and the Nationals’ first baseman in 2019, Ryan Zimmerman told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier on Wednesday that he thought Rizzo and Co. in the Nats’ front office would like to add another catcher to the mix.
“Signing ‘Zuk’ back to another two-year deal,” Zimmerman said, “and what he does with the pitchers and in the clubhouse is great. I heard Mike [Rizzo is] coming on in a little bit, he’ll probably be able to tell you a little bit more, but I would assume they’ll probably go out and get someone else to kind of piggyback with Kurt and go kind of that route, or obviously I think some of the young catchers have done some good things, but we’ll see what they do there.”
Rizzo did, in fact, join Grant and Danny later in the afternoon yesterday, and he was asked if the Nationals are done adding to the catching corps after the Suzuki signing.
“I think that we’re satisfied where we’re at so far with the catching corps,” Rizzo explained.
“[Spencer] Kieboom had a good finish for us last year. He took a step in the right direction as one of our prospects who became a big leaguer and we’ve got some depth with [Pedro] Severino, but you know, you’re never finished. We certainly are going to get our feelers out there and see if we can upgrade if it’s possible to do that and have more depth in the organization but ‘Zuk’ was a good acquisition for us. He gives us everything you need behind the plate, between the lines, in the clubhouse, and in the leadership role.
“He’s been a sneaky kind of elite type of catcher in the game for the last couple of years and we all know what he did for us in  when he came over and performed admirably for us.”
So what kind of catcher are they looking for at this point? A No. 1? Someone to share time with Suzuki, a platoon partner? Is Suzuki likely to be the starting catcher on Opening Day?
“You would think so,” Rizzo said. “That’s what he brought him in here for. He’s a guy that’s been stretched before and has played a lot of games in the past. He’s 35 years old, so we’re certainly going to be cognizant of that, but like I said, we’ve come a long way to upgrading our catching corps and not only behind the plate but in the clubhouse and in a leadership role on the club.”
MASN’s Mark Zuckerman discussed the possibility of bringing Matt Wieters back for a third year in the nation’s capital earlier this week, writing that while the veteran backstop, “is not a No. 1 catcher anymore ... give him, say, 70 starts while Suzuki gets 90, and you might just have the makings of a really productive (and really affordable) partnership.”
Will the Nats, who ESPN’s Buster Olney wrote last week were, “... one of the most aggressive bidders for Miami’s catcher J.T. Realmuto,” revisit those talks if the Marlins lower their asking price for two years of control of the backstop?