Twins sign Suzuki to two-year contract extension

Catcher will earn $6 million in 2015 and '16; deal has vesting option for '17

Twins sign Suzuki to two-year contract extension

KANSAS CITY -- Kurt Suzuki isn't going anywhere, after all.

The veteran catcher, who had been the subject of trade rumors in recent weeks, agreed to a two-year deal worth $12 million with the Twins on Thursday, the same day as the non-waiver Trade Deadline. Suzuki, 30, is set to earn $6 million next year and in 2016 and also has a one-year vesting option for '17 worth $6 million based on his plate appearances in '16.

Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony said there was some trade interest in Suzuki, but the club never seriously pursued any deals, as it was their intention to keep the backstop.

"There was some interest but we were telling people we might get something done," Antony said. "We were trying to get something done. That was the No. 1 priority when it came to Suzuki. We wanted to keep him rather than trade him."

Suzuki is having a career year, as he was named an All-Star for the first time and entered Thursday hitting .304/.367/.386 with two homers, 19 doubles and 41 RBIs in 89 games. He joined the Twins over the offseason on a one-year, $2.75 million deal after the Twins decided to move Joe Mauer from behind the plate to first base because of a concussion suffered last August.

Suzuki said he feels like he's fit in with the Twins since meeting his teammates in Spring Training and was excited to remain with the organization.

"I was pretty optimistic the whole time," Suzuki said of a deal being reached. "I made it clear that I liked it here and that I was comfortable. I love everything about this organization."

Twins pitchers were also excited to hear the news, as Suzuki has drawn rave reviews for his work behind the plate and his pitch-calling. Closer Glen Perkins, who was also an All-Star with Suzuki, said it was important for the Twins to lock up a key player at an important position and added that Suzuki has become a leader in the clubhouse.

Suzuki is also expected to help mentor Josmil Pinto over the course of his deal, as Pinto is currently at Triple-A Rochester to work on his defense, but is expected to be part of Minnesota's catching plans moving forward.

"It's a relief," Perkins said. "I think it's going to give Kurt an opportunity to play with Pinto in the future, which is good because we need him to continue to develop. Kurt has been a leader here in the five months since Spring Training. We all love throwing to him and what he's done on and off the field. So it's the best-case scenario."

Suzuki is an eight-year veteran and is a career .257/.315/.376 hitter with 69 homers, 171 doubles and 400 RBIs in 929 games. He's having his best offensive season this year, but the Twins feel that it's just icing on the cake to go along with everything else he provides.

The Twins also didn't want to trade Suzuki this season and then start from scratch to try to find another catcher this offseason via free agency or trade.

"He's obviously having a much better offensive season than he's had the last few years," Antony said. "All in all, we just believed in our situation he was the right guy to have rather than going into next offseason looking for a veteran catcher and hoping to get lucky again and find somebody like we did with Suzuki this year."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.