Oakland Athletics sign C Kurt Suzuki to 4-year contract that carries through arbitration years

Kurt Suzuki and the Oakland Athletics agreed to a four-year contract Friday that locks up the catcher through his arbitration years.

The deal replaces Suzuki's previous 2010 contract and includes a club option for the 2014 season. The option year is the first year Suzuki would be eligible for free agency.

"Since the day Kurt got here, beyond being an outstanding player, he's been an outstanding leader and a quality guy off the field as well," A's general manager Billy Beane said. "He's the type of player you'd like to invest in. We actually started this process in the spring and started bringing up the idea. Sometimes it takes a little longer."

Full terms of the deal were not revealed, but Suzuki hinted at the price tag while talking to reporters.

"If you look $16 million in the face and turn it down, to me, you're crazy," he said. "This is what I work hard for — not just for the money part — but to be in the big leagues. Working hard, doing everything you can in the offseason ... keeping yourself strong to be able to perform at a high level. It pays off and you get rewarded with a contract like this."

The 26-year-old Suzuki is a key part of Oakland's future. He has led AL catchers in games started the past two seasons and became only the second catcher in franchise history to lead the team in RBIs with 88 last season.

He was hitting .257 with 37 RBIs and a team-leading 10 home runs in 68 games this year, numbers Beane believes will increase.

"I don't think it's out of line to think that Kurt can be a 20-plus homer (guy) and he's probably going to be in the Gold Glove conversation as well," Beane said. "With a contract like this comes a certain amount of personal responsibility. Up to this point, Kurt's been a model citizen."