The Nationals had already traded one catching prospect to the Oakland A’s in the past eight months. That was Derek Norris, a power-hitter the team drafted in 2007 in the fourth round who turned into a nice find. He was dealt to Oakland last December as part of the package that landed them left-handed starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez.

The latest to go? David Freitas, 23, a catcher at Single-A Potomac who also had impressed team officials in recent years with his power, but may project as a better defensive player than Norris. He was sent to the A’s in return for catcher Kurt Suzuki, who will likely be Washington’s primary catcher over the final two months of the season. Ironically, Suzuki’s departure again opens a spot for Norris, 23, in Oakland. He’s played in 21 games with the A’s this season and is expected to be recalled this weekend from Triple-A Sacramento.

“We traded from our depth. We have great depth at the catching position and felt that that was the one place that we could go down to the minor leagues and make a deal with,” Nats general manager Mike Rizzo said. “We weren’t going to move any of our top left-handed bats or any of our pitching in this type of deal. So we worked on a deal, [Oakland general manager] Billy [Beane] and I, that made sense for both of us and it worked out.”

So what did Washington give up? Freitas was batting .271 at Potomac with five homers and 22 doubles. His OPS there is .780 and he’s shown excellent plate discipline at that level with 39 walks to 52 strikeouts. Oakland has already promoted him to Double-A Midland in the Texas League. Freitas is a nice prospect as a 15th-round draft pick in 2010, but, as Rizzo said, the organization is stocked with catchers at the higher levels.

“We were high on [Freitas]. I really like him,” Washington manager Davey Johnson said. “He has a good future. He’s a big, strong catcher. He’s got some punch.”

Top catcher Wilson Ramos should return from his ACL tear by spring training. Sandy Leon, 23, and Jhonatan Solano, 26, have both spent time as Jesus Flores’ backup since Ramos was injured in May and had their moments. Flores’ future with the team after this season is the most in doubt now after a rough couple months as the starter.

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