Free Agent Stock Watch: John Buck

Jose Bautista's incredible season has been the big story for the Blue Jays this year, and for good reason. After blasting his 49th long ball last night, Bautista is just two away from matching Davey Johnson's 1973 record for biggest home run jump in a single season. However, Bautista isn't the only Blue Jay veteran who's having an unexpected career year. Quietly, John Buck has hit .274/.303/.485 in 369 plate appearances and matched his career high in homers (18), while handling a young Toronto starting rotation. Let's break down his stock heading into free agency:

The Pros

  • Buck's offensive performance appears mostly sustainable. He slugged .484 in limited playing time in 2009, and has always had the ability to hit the ball out of the park. Plus, his OBP is right in line with his career rate.
  • His numbers haven't been inflated by playing in a homer-friendly park; he's actually hit better on the road (.841 OPS, 11 HR).
  • The free agent class of catchers doesn't look as impressive as it might have a few months ago. Veterans like Bengie Molina and A.J. Pierzynski have underperformed, and teams may not be entirely confident in Victor Martinez's ability behind the plate. Buck appears to be one of the more appealing options available.
  • At 30 years old, Buck should be able to withstand the wear-and-tear of catching for at least a few more seasons.
  • He'll likely remain a Type B free agent, meaning he won't cost a draft pick to sign.

The Cons

  • Buck's .274 batting average isn't a mark he's likely to repeat. He's a career .241 hitter and he has an unusually high BABIP this year.
  • His BB/K ratio is a career-worst 12/103.
  • The 30-year-old figures to be looking for a contract larger in both years and money than the one-year, $2MM deal he signed with the Jays. He was only a .235/.298/.407 career hitter prior to this season, so suitors may be reluctant to invest millions in him.

The Verdict

Even if the Blue Jays decide to roll the dice with J.P. Arencibia as their primary backstop next season, they should offer Buck arbitration. In the unlikely scenario that he accepts, they'll have him back at an affordable price. If he declines, Buck will probably be looking to land a multi-year deal elsewhere. Last winter, the 35-year-old Bengie Molina was coming off a season similar to Buck's and signed a one-year contract worth $4.5MM. I wouldn't be surprised to see Buck ink a two- or three-year deal for about the same yearly salary that Molina received.


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18 Comments on "Free Agent Stock Watch: John Buck"


TheBunk
4 years 11 months ago

Yeah I think he’s very likely to decline arb, could be his only chance at a long term contract. Thinking something like 2Y/9M with a club option on a third year?

Sniderlover
4 years 11 months ago

Considering how weak the market is, it wouldn’t surprise me if he got 2y/12m with a club option. He got 2 mil coming of a crap season so I think he can triple that salary and its most likely he declines arb so hello draft pick.

EDIT: I think Mets could be a possible destination for him. Tried to sign Molina last year but ended up getting Barajas who was traded to the Dodgers so unless they get Martinez or something, I think they could sign Buck there.

4 years 11 months ago

They need to stick with Thole. He’s nothing incredibly impressive, but they should stick with the young, cheap talent.

Sniderlover
4 years 11 months ago

While I don’t disagree with that, the management may think otherwise and may look to contend for playoffs next season so that’s why I said it.

Personally, I think the Mets should re-build.

4 years 11 months ago

Oops. After realizing I misread the post, I also realized I can’t delete it or edit my comment to be blank. If anyone in power wants to kill this comment, please do so.

HerbertAnchovy
4 years 11 months ago

Buck’s offense is good, but his defense is sketchy. They should’ve traded him. I won’t be sad to see John “passed ball” Buck go.

Sniderlover
4 years 11 months ago

Actually his defense for the most has been pretty good. He sucked hard for the first month and really struggled when Romero was throwing and still does because Romero stuff is nasty and it hits the dirt hard.

He’s fairly good at calling games and throwing runners out. I think he’s helped our staff a lot.

Encarnacion's Parrot
4 years 11 months ago

I don’t know how long he’s been doing it, but when he throws to 2B on his knees, his throw-out % has to be close to 100%.

HerbertAnchovy
4 years 11 months ago

I do agree that he calls a good game, but his defense is still weak in my eyes. You shouldn’t be 30 and still learning how to catch in the bigs.

Dave_Gershman
4 years 11 months ago

Good guy, good hitter, could be a better defender, but it’s going to be a very fun off-season deciding where he will go. I say he signs with the Padres, but I’m usually wrong.

twenty1thirteen
4 years 11 months ago

Lol, those defending Buck’s skills obviously had never watched him before this year.

moonraker45
4 years 11 months ago

this is a common theme from royals fans… I think it had more to do with the fact that he was actually catching good pitchers and was on a good team that turned things around.

Otis26
4 years 11 months ago

LOL. Last year he was on the team that had the Cy Young winner and one of the best closers in baseball. But you know what? Olivo caught him because Buck was horrible. He’s having a career year and I really hope some sucker team signs him to a big contract because in the end he’s still John Freaking Buck.

moonraker45
4 years 11 months ago

So what 1 pitcher on a team compared to 4 quality starters on the jays. as as much as the jays were out of it this year, it was a fun year and they hung in… where as before the season even starts royals pack it in. Can’t be that enthused to work on your craft when essentially its all for nothing. . I bet you once Grienke and Soria leave they’ll get even better too.

BaseballFanatic0707
4 years 11 months ago

Well, anything over 5 mill is probably overpay, but I could definitely see a few teams willing to pay about 4 mill a year over 2 years with a club option for a 3rd. He can provide an all-around acceptable game for a catcher.

moonraker45
4 years 11 months ago

At this point are the jays confident going in to next season with Arencibia as the starter? I mean you can’t send him back to AAA, but at the same time we really have no idea if his talent will transition to the major leagues.

jwredsox
4 years 11 months ago

Good defender/bad defender from a fan is purely based on vantage point. A fan of the team is likely going to remember the great plays he has made over the course of year and weed out the bad plays until they don’t remember them. Then when you think back on the year for that player you have a highlight reel of big plays and you are tempted to call him a great defensive player. This is why you should take fielding opinions from experts and not fans. It isn’t the fault of the fan it is just how the brain works. We preserve good memories more often than the bad ones.

rbeezy
4 years 11 months ago

I would be surprised if he is not a tiger next year. He is exactly what they are looking for and need. They would have no problem offering him $10 mill over 2 years.