Mariners Close To Deal With John Buck

TUESDAY, 4:20pm: Seattle is expected to give Buck a major league contract, Morosi tweets.

MONDAY, 11:25pm: The Mariners are close to a deal with free agent catcher John Buck, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Buck, 33, is represented by the ACES agency.

The backstop played out the last year of a three-year, $18MM contract last season. After originally signing that deal with the Marlins, Buck was dealt from the Blue Jays to the Mets, and then to the Pirates. Buck raced out to a hot start in 2013 — he had a .844 OPS and 9 home runs in April — but faded over the course of the year. He saw only 24 plate appearances in his late-season stint in Pittsburgh, and ultimately ended the 2013 campaign with a .219/.285/.362 line and 15 home runs over 431 plate appearances. Buck has appeared in at least 100 games in eight of the last nine seasons and has a lifetime .701 OPS.

As things stand for Seattle, young catcher Mike Zunino figures to be the club's primary catching option for 2014 (and beyond), with 25-year-old Jesus Sucre and veteran Humberto Quintero also in the mix. At first glance, Buck would presumably fit in as Zunino's backup if a deal is consummated. On the other hand, as MLBTR's Aaron Steen has noted, the unseasoned Zunino could probably stand to spend more time in the minors or in a reduced role, and Buck's long history as a starter makes him a plausible candidate to see significant time behind the big league dish.

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