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CHICAGO — The Nationals acquired Kurt Suzuki from the Athletics last August to help fill the void created by Wilson Ramos' torn ACL, and the veteran catcher responded by becoming a key part of a division championship roster.
One year later, with Ramos fully healthy and firmly establishing himself as the club's long-term answer behind the plate, the Nationals are sending Suzuki back to Oakland, where he may get a chance to help that club reach the postseason.
The Nationals dealt Suzuki to the A's late Thursday night, a club source confirmed. The trade was first reported by the Washington Times.
The Nationals acquired right-handed pitcher Dakota Bacus from the A's in exchange for Suzuki. Bacus, who will report to Hagerstown of the Single-A South Atlantic League, joins the Nationals after going 9-5 with a 3.56 ERA (48 ER/121.1 IP) in 26 games/21 starts for Beloit of the Single-A Midwest League. Bacus ranked 7th in ERA and tied for 8th in wins among A's farm hands.
Because the trade took place after the July 31 deadline, Suzuki would have needed to clear waivers or else be claimed by Oakland. That's the same process that brought him to Washington one year ago, when the first-place Nationals were desperate for catching help with Ramos rehabbing from a torn ACL and Jesus Flores struggling with a heavy workload.
Suzuki, who was acquired for minor-league catcher David Freitas, wound up as a major contributor during the Nationals' stretch run, hitting .267 with 25 RBI in 43 games and quickly developing a rapport with the club's pitching staff.
The Nationals opened this season with Ramos and Suzuki splitting time behind the plate, and Suzuki wound up as the everyday catcher again when Ramos twice landed on the disabled list with a strained hamstring. But Ramos has since come back healthy and strong and has been getting the overwhelming majority of starts since.
Suzuki started only 12 games since Ramos returned on July 4; in 79 total games, the 29-year-old was hitting just .222 with three homers and 25 RBI. The A's had an immediate need for catching help after both John Jaso and Derek Norris landed on the DL.
The Nationals held an $8.5 million option to bring Suzuki back in 2014, but they were expected to enact a $650,000 buyout clause instead.
With Suzuki heading back to Oakland, the Nationals will add another catcher before Friday night's series opener in Kansas City. Jhonatan Solano, currently hitting .214 at Class AAA Syracuse, is likely to be promoted and serve as Ramos' backup for the remainder of the season.