Nationals sign ex-Braves catcher Suzuki to 2-year deal

Catcher Kurt Suzuki is heading back to the Nationals after agreeing to a two-year, $10-million US free-agent contract. Suzuki played for Washington in 2012 and 2013.

Veteran backstop, 35, played for Washington in 2012, 2013

Kurt Suzuki, pictured here in Atlanta in June, has agreed to a two-year contract with the Washington Nationals. The Hawaii native batted .271 with 12 homers and 50 RBIs last season. (Cameron Hart/Getty Images)
Catcher Kurt Suzuki is heading back to the Washington Nationals after agreeing to a two-year, $10-million US free-agent contract.
The 35-year-old gets $4 million next year and $6 million in 2020, up from $3.5 million last season, his second with the Atlanta Braves.

Suzuki is the first player of the 164 who hit free agency after the World Series to switch teams and the ninth with a finalized agreement.

"Obviously the last time I went to free agency wasn't as fun," Suzuki said during a conference call. "It's a lot nicer, more peace of mind knowing where you're going to be, especially for the next two years. I'm 35 years old. I feel like I've been getting better as a player. I feel like I have a lot to offer for younger players, as well. I just try to go with it."

He became a free agent after batting .271 in 2018 with 12 homers and 50 runs batted in as Atlanta won the National League East ahead of the second-place Nationals. The agreement was finalized Tuesday, after he passed a physical.

2014 AL all-star

Suzuki played for Washington in 2012 and 2013, part of a 12-year major league career in which he has been with four clubs and batted .258 with 114 home runs and 619 RBI.

"The last two years at age 33 and 34 kind of had like a renaissance I guess," Suzuki said. "I really haven't changed much. I go out there and I don't really think about launch angles or all these kind of analytical things. I go out there and I just try to do some damage, and whenever they throw me a pitch that I think I can do damage with, I swing."

He made the AL all-star team in 2014 while with the Minnesota Twins.

A right-handed hitter, Suzuki could wind up as part of a platoon at catcher for the Nationals, who have been in the market for help at that position after Matt Wieters batted under .240 in each of the past two seasons there.

Washington is coming off an 82-80 season, its first under manager Dave Martinez, following two consecutive division titles and first-round playoff exits. Suzuki, who turned down a contract offer from Atlanta to become a free agent, said it was a "good gamble" based on the deal he got from Washington, a team he called a perennial World Series contender.

In hunt for starter, 2nd baseman?

"We've got everything that it takes to win a World Series," Suzuki said. "I love our chances for this year. I think we've got all the talent and all the tools to go out there and win."

So far, Washington's off-season moves have centred on the bullpen, including exercising up closer Sean Doolittle's option and signing former St. Louis Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal.

The Nationals are also expected to seek help for their starting rotation as well as a new second baseman.

The biggest question of all that looms over the next few months, of course, is what will happen with outfielder Bryce Harper, the 2015 NL MVP who is a free agent.

With files from Stephen Whyno, Associated Press

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