Yankees Free Agent Target: Kurt Suzuki

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Can Kurt Suzuki be an upgrade over Chris Stewart?

The Yankees need a starting catcher in 2014 that is at least better than Chris Stewart. Obviously, they'll be focusing their efforts on signing Brian McCann, but he could cost as much as $100 million and a new catcher isn't going to single-handedly change the team's outlook. Instead of spending big at one position, it could make sense to spread the money out among different positions in order to improve the team as a whole. If the Yankees go that route, Kurt Suzuki could be someone they look into.

First and foremost, Suzuki is not a good hitter. The righty has a career .253/.309/.375 line (86 wRC+). He doesn't walk much (6.4%), but he also manages his strikeout rate (11.9%) and, unfortunately, he isn't even good against left-handed pitchers (75 wRC+). He does have 15-home run potential, so on a bare minimum he is an improvement over Stewart. Suzuki will still bat ninth and won't be loved by a demanding fan base, but he'll actually be serviceable.

Defensively, he might be a little less adept behind the plate. Looking over the last two seasons, Stewart might be the overall better defender, but Suzuki is much better at blocking pitches in the dirt. They might be even in stolen bases, but Suzuki was really good in 2012 (4) and really bad in 2013 (-6).

2012-2013 Stats Suzuki Stewart
Defensive Runs 0 5
Stolen Base Runs 2 2
Blocked Pitch Runs 6.2 3.3

The thing to keep in mind is that Suzuki is an actual starter. He's caught 6880 innings in his career, while Stewart has only caught 1829.1 innings, meaning that Suzuki is better equipped to be a full time catcher over the long grind of the season. Remember, Stewart broke down over the course of the season and actually suffered from dehydration at one point. Suzuki is 30, and a year younger, so he has even less of a chance of breaking down.

In 2013, Suzuki made almost $6.5 million, but that is kind of a lot for a better Chris Stewart. Perhaps the Yankees can sign him for $5 million and his durability will basically ensure that he has a place on the team. Pairing him with J.R. Murphy or Austin Romine would provide stability and a healthy learning environment for the future while the money saved will go toward other improvements.

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