Kurt Suzuki acknowledged, towards the end of the 60-game COVID campaign this past September, that the Washington Nationals not getting the usual victory lap after they’d finally won it all in 2019, was frustrating and disappointing for players and fans alike.
“I thing the most frustrating part of this season,” the 37-year-old, 14-year veteran said in late September 2020, “is after having such a special year last year, winning the World Series, the way we did it, with a lot of the core guys that have come back this year on this team, and for it to be kind of like this, a shortened season, no fans, you can’t do the things that normal world champions can do in the follow-up season. It is frustrating, you know, I guess it is sad, because [of] ... the unknowns, for a lot of guys that are free agents this year, and a lot of guys that might go different directions, you try to enjoy yourself now with the guys here, you try to enjoy yourself and we talk about how special last year was and all that kind of fun stuff, but you just try to enjoy yourself every day and enjoy your teammates and being around each other.”
Suzuki, who put up a combined .266/.331/.460 line, 19 doubles, and 19 homers in 118 games and 438 plate appearances over the course of the two-year/$10M deal he signed with the Nationals in November of 2018, is one of the players who has gone another direction as he signed a one-year/$1.5M free agent deal with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim this past week.
Suzuki and Yan Gomes caught a combined 220 of 222 games for the Nationals in 2019-20, but now Suzuki is moving on to LA, and Washington’s in the market for a catcher who can help handle the backstop duties in D.C. alongside Gomes.
For Suzuki, who was born in Hawaii, then attended Cal State Fullerton, played for Oakland’s A’s (twice), and has lived in California with his family for some time, the decision to sign on with the Angels was an easy one.
“I think that my family, obviously us being on the West Coast, living on the West Coast full time, kids are getting older, it was the right move for the family and I. I think at this point in my career that was a choice that we wanted to make,” Suzuki told MLB Network Radio Hot Stove hosts Jim Memolo and Steve Sax last night.
Adding a World Series champion and stabilizing force behind the plate is one way to start. @Angels | #Angels pic.twitter.com/lg61F4AjIb— MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (@MLBNetworkRadio) January 17, 2021
“We loved our time in D.C., the last two years, obviously winning the World Series, it was incredible, great group of guys, great coaching staff, from top to bottom just a first-class organization, but we felt like at this time in my career, with this type of opportunity that we have, to be reunited with [GM] Perry [Minasian], [Assistant GM] Alex Tamin, and those guys from my times in Atlanta, we thought it was the right time to do that and we’re excited for this opportunity.”
Suzuki said he did reach out to his former teammate in D.C., Anthony Rendon, to talk to him about signing with the Angels, after Rendon signed a 7-year/$245M deal with LA last winter.
“Oh, yeah. I talked to Tony quite a bit actually, and asked him questions, he had nothing but great things to say with that.”
Looking back on his time in the nation’s capital, Suzuki said, and the World Series they won, is something he does often.
“I think that my time in Washington was unbelievable,” Suzuki told the MLBNR hosts. “What great memories, obviously winning my first World Series there, the first World Series for that organization, and like I said, the bonds that I’ve made throughout that organization with the players, the coaching staff, the front office, it was awesome, and I look back on it all the time. I think it would be hard not to, you know, that’s what you play for, you play to win the World Series, and to win the World Series a lot of things have to go right, a lot of friendships are really made, you become a family, and all this stuff that happens, and it was a great time, and I look back at it all the time and just say, ‘Wow.’ I pinch myself to see if it’s still real.”
Suzuki signed a one-year deal with the Angels, and he’ll be 38 years old when 2021’s season comes to an end, so how much longer does he want to keep playing?
“I’m not sure,” he said. “I think that as time goes on, I think that you tend to say, ‘Okay, if this is my last year, this is my last year, great,’ and you play every year like it’s your last, you never know what’s going to happen as the years go on, but this year I’m just going to have fun and win some ballgames.”