Orioles trade for former top prospect Susac, who will compete for backup catching job - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Dan Connolly

Orioles trade for former top prospect Susac, who will compete for backup catching job

Photo credit: Rick Scuteri/USA Today Sports

The Orioles haven’t bought any major league free agents or filled their primary needs in the rotation or the left side of their lineup as the calendar flips to February, but twice in the last week they have addressed depth concerns by acquiring a player designated from assignment by another team.

On Friday, the Orioles announced they had acquired 27-year-old catcher Andrew Susac from the Milwaukee Brewers for a player to be named later or cash considerations.

Susac, once a top prospect of the San Francisco Giants, was designated for assignment earlier this week by the Brewers after appearing in just eight games with Milwaukee last year. He has struggled to stay healthy recently and has hit just .232 with a .299 on-base percentage and .396 slugging percentage in 274 big league plate appearances spanning four seasons. He’s thrown out 25 percent of would-be basestealers in the majors.

Following the 2014 season, however, Baseball America ranked the former second-rounder out of Oregon State University as the Giants’ top prospect and 88th overall in baseball. The Giants dealt him to the Brewers in August 2016 as part of a package for reliever Will Smith.

Susac fits the mold of players often acquired by Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette: A former high-ceiling prospect who has underachieved, but is still relatively, young, cheap and has a minor league option remaining.

“Susac is a right-handed hitting catcher with over 100 games of major league experience who adds depth and major league experience to the O’s at the position,” Duquette said.

The Orioles were looking for a veteran catcher to compete for a backup role behind Caleb Joseph. Susac likely will be in competition with rookies Chance Sisco and Austin Wynns for the Opening Day roster.

The club’s 40-man roster is now filled.

Last week, the Orioles added utility infielder Engelb Vielma in a “future considerations” deal with the San Francisco Giants.

Although they were much lower down on the priority list than three starting pitchers and a left-handed-hitting outfielder, the Orioles have been looking to add a utility player and backup catcher heading into this offseason.

16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Dpsmith22

    February 2, 2018 at 2:56 pm

    Interesting. IMO If Sisco is not strong enough defensively, then he should have been packaged in a deal for a legit starter. If he is good enough, he should get the lion’s share of time behind the plate. The kid will hit and carry a solid OBP. Considering we will not compete this season, it would be silly to send him down.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 2, 2018 at 3:07 pm

      He turns 23 this month, has had one full season in AAA and is still learning catcher, the toughest position in baseball. It’s not silly at all to send him down. It’s silly to have him in the majors if he can’t succeed yet.

  2. Ben1

    February 2, 2018 at 5:08 pm

    oooooh. DD strikes again!

    • Dan Connolly

      February 3, 2018 at 12:26 am

      Hahaha. Who did ya expect for a backup catcher competitor? Johnny Piazza?

  3. Orial

    February 2, 2018 at 6:31 pm

    Duquette gets bashed for these kind of moves but his below the surface moves are underated. Catching is a wide open race so why not? Sisco may not be ready,Joseph(a fan favorite who could someday manage) has his limits. Like it.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 3, 2018 at 12:27 am

      May end up as nothing. But these are the guys you take a flyer on.

  4. JerseyOsFan

    February 2, 2018 at 9:19 pm

    I really like this deal. I believe Sisco is our second best catcher at this moment. However, I don’t see any upside to Sisco being the second catcher in Baltimore. Having him sit and be the Sunday and one other day a week receiver likely won’t help his growth. At least if he’s the #1 in Norfolk, he can gain valuable experience and work on defense and leadership without being under the microscope of the bigs. He might just tear the cover off the ball there, but it’s something I can live with to make his future brighter. Susac can be the #2 in Baltimore and if he does well, then that’s a bonus. He is not our future…

    • Dan Connolly

      February 3, 2018 at 12:29 am

      Well-reasoned. Totally agree. Sisco is the future but that doesn’t have to be April 2018. Make sure when he comes up his entire game is ready to stay.

  5. Eldersburg Enigma

    February 3, 2018 at 8:27 am

    The bigger concern is that the 40-man roster is full despite having 4-6 vacancies on the major league roster. All these “depth moves” are temporary because hopefully those roster spots will soon be needed.

    Meanwhile, does this franchise have any direction whatsoever? The current philosophy amongst teams in the O’s position is to tank. Trade all the valuable parts for young stud prospects, lose big, and gather a few years’s worth of top 5 draft positions. Instead, the O’s appear headed to another last or near-last place finish with a record “good enough” to draft in the teens. Meanwhile for the next few offseasons, their best players will be able to leave as free agents without the team receiving anything other than a second and fifth round pick for each departing player.

    But that’s not the worst of it. We often rail on the O’s for not participating in the international market. A few years back, MLB and the players association implemented a SALARY CAP on international spending.

    • Eldersburg Enigma

      February 3, 2018 at 8:31 am

      So what’s the excuse now for not spending on young players from overseas? Worse, the O’s trade those international bonus money slots and help other teams build their system while the O’s pick up these AAAA “depth pieces”. I am not a Duquette fan but I think this goes over his head. The organization is not well put together and it’s depressing. And because of the success 2012-2016 after so much losing, the organization isn’t getting nearly enough scrutiny.

      • Birdman

        February 3, 2018 at 9:03 pm

        Agreed … at this point Orioles appear to be a dysfunctional organization with no coherent strategy going forward … notwithstanding the good 2012-2016 run, bottom line is the franchise has had only 4 seasons over .500, and only two seasons over 90 wins, in the past 20 years, which begs the question, what has been the common denominator during those 20 years? answer, the ownership

    • Dan Connolly

      February 5, 2018 at 9:16 am

      There is no question the lack of international amateur signings is an ownership philosophy. I’ve written it several times.

  6. Disco Stupid

    February 3, 2018 at 3:57 pm

    This seems like a good move. O’s have the spring to evaluate Sisco, Wynns, and Susac. Who knows? There might be some ceiling to be tapped with this acquisition and Susac has graded out neutral in his defense so far.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 5, 2018 at 9:17 am

      Certainly it is a no harm no foul move.

  7. MikeinFairfax

    February 3, 2018 at 11:02 pm

    Dan — great meeting you at FanFest last week! I downloaded the BB app for my iPad now. Love the t-shirt!

    Is Susac a depth signing, or does he have a real chance to make the team over Sisco and Wynns? Is this a sign that the team would prefer to start Sisco at Norfolk this season?

    • Dan Connolly

      February 5, 2018 at 9:20 am

      Mike: thanks for stopping by the booth and the site. I think Susac has a chance to make the team. He will be in the competition. Sisco is the future, but there are some in the organization that believes he needs to keep catching every day at this young age. If that thinking wins out, he’ll start at Norfolk.

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