Mariners Sign John Buck

The Mariners announced today that they've added to their catching depth by inking veteran backstop John Buck to a one-year contract. Buck's contract is a Major League deal that is reportedly worth $1MM and should make him the favorite to serve as Seattle's backup catcher. The 33-year-old is a client of the ACES agency.


Buck, an All-Star back in 2010, got off to a hot start last season for the Mets. He ended April with a .844 OPS and 9 home runs, but faded over the course of the year. Buck ended up with a composite .219/.285/.362 line in 431 plate appearances for the year, though he did swat 15 home runs. His overall numbers line up with the figures he posted over the previous two seasons, falling well shy of his two best seasons: 2009 (.247/.299/.484) and 2010 (.281/.314/.489, 20 home runs).

Buck has appeared in at least 100 games in eight of the last nine seasons, making him a durable option. He has rated positively in terms of blocking pitches in the dirt, but has been ranked among the worst pitch framers in the game. Indeed, according to StatCorner (hat tip to Dave Cameron of Fangraphs), Buck came in dead last among all catchers in framing last year, costing the Mets over 20 runs.

Buck inked a three-year, $18MM contract with the Marlins after those big 2009-10 campaigns, but — depending upon how one values catchers, in particular — never quite lived up to the deal. Fangraphs figures his value at 4.1 WAR over the life of the deal, while Baseball Reference pegs it at just 1.1. And further downward adjustment could be warranted to account for Buck's poor framing metrics. He was ultimately dealt three times over the life of the contract: first to the Blue Jays, then to the Mets, and then to the Pirates. Hitting the open market for a third time, Buck ultimately settled for a relatively modest guarantee this time around.

Young catcher Mike Zunino figures to be the Seattle's primary catching option for 2014 (and beyond), but Buck will presumably leapfrog 25-year-old Jesus Sucre and veteran Humberto Quintero on the depth chart. 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. With Buck's long history as a starter, however, he is a plausible candidate to see significant time behind the big league dish.

Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports first reported that the two sides were nearing a deal, and Jon Heyman of CBS Sports first reported (on Twitter) that the two sides had reached a $1MM agreement.

Steve Adams contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

50 Responses to Mariners Sign John Buck Leave a Reply

  1. Zoe 2 years ago

    Wow the rich get richer I guess I don’t know if their pitching is up to par especially heir rotation but I mean geez who is better

  2. casey 2 years ago

    This is a good move by the M’s, 1 mil? Who goes for 1 mil these days? A catcher that will hit 15 homers, any team would make that deal…

  3. Ryan Graywacz 2 years ago

    Now this is the guy they needed to back up Cano!!!

    • charles 2 years ago

      that will be matt kemps job

      • wadesawko 2 years ago

        Fingers crossed Kemp lands in SEA in some lop-sided trade that favours us.

  4. Jordan_Vaughn1 2 years ago

    Really thought it would be more $. Good for Mariners

  5. charles 2 years ago

    smart move. they needed a back up catcher. smaller moves is better then no moves.

  6. sjberke1 2 years ago

    Some Nats followers were hoping the Nats could sign Buck as a backup; I don’t think that was ever very realistic. Obviously with the deal he signed, money wasn’t the problem; but unless Ramos gets injured again (not unlikely, but a respectable pro like Buck isn’t going to sign in anticipation of someone getting hurt) the most the Nats backup can expect is 30-40 starts. With the putative Ms starter having all of 52 games in MLB under his belt, Buck’s chances to see action are much better in Seattle.

  7. WhoKilledTheRallyMonkey 2 years ago

    Buck hasn’t played fewer than 100 games since 2009 and despite his poor AVG/OBP he posted an fWAR of 1.6 in 2013. Not sure why he settled for a 1 million dollar contract to back up Zunino. I don’t understand it but good pick up by the M’s!

    • Mike LaRose 2 years ago

      I watched a lot of Mets games last year and he was terrible at the plate after April so I can see why he got a pay cut

      • WhoKilledTheRallyMonkey 2 years ago

        Catchers JP Arencibia and Will Nieves both singed 1 year contracts for more than Buck coming off seasons where they posted a negative fWAR (-.6 and -.1 respectively)

  8. WhoKilledTheRallyMonkey 2 years ago

    Precursor to packaging Zunino in trade for David Price?

    • Jordan_Vaughn1 2 years ago


    • GD 2 years ago

      Laughable. I don’t think so!

    • charles 2 years ago

      why you hate the mariners so?

      • WhoKilledTheRallyMonkey 2 years ago

        not my idea…. it comes from Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t hate the M’s

    • BCleveland3381 2 years ago

      So they’re gonna trade Zunino and Buck is the solution? Umm….no.

      • omavricko 2 years ago

        Mariners also are very fond of Sucre so I could see a Zunino trade happening

    • Jake13 2 years ago

      Let’s not go overboard, Buck is a good backup but a god awful starter.

    • Gop5 2 years ago

      Ya know, I know that sounds crazy, but I could see it happening. With it looking more and more like the Dodgers, Yankees, and Angels are the favorites to land Tanaka, the Mariners could make the deal. Still would much rather they go all for Tanaka or get Ubaldo and package something together for Kemp, but I’m just hoping whatever happens, they don’t trade Walker or Paxton, and preferably not Zunino. We’ll see though. They want to make a splash.

  9. BCleveland3381 2 years ago

    Met pitchers liked pitching to Buck. He called a really good game and worked really well with the pitching staff. His bat was a mess after April. As long as he’s not your only catching option he’s fine. It was reported in spring training he was completely willing and did teach Travis d’Arnaud a ton. He is a great team guy and if the M’s combine him with Zunino in spring training, it’s probably a good thing.

    • connfyoozed . 2 years ago

      Pirates players seemed to enjoy having him around as well, even though he didn’t play much there. When Buck arrived in Pittsburgh after being traded there, Gaby Sanchez arranged to have a #14 Pirates jersey hanging in Buck’s locker. Sanchez had been wearing 14 for a couple of years in Pittsburgh, but that’s what number Buck wore when the 2 were teammates with the Marlins, and Buck had tried to wear #14 for other teams as well. Sanchez voluntarily gave up #14 without Buck asking him or even knowing Sanchez planned to do that. I think that story lends itself to what kind of teammate Buck apparently is.

  10. DogleggedWalnut 2 years ago

    Really, really good deal for the Mariners. We finally have a back-up catcher who can actually use that thing they call “a bat”.

  11. Bertin Lefkovic 2 years ago

    Is it greedy of me to have wished that the Yankees made this deal? I know that either Francisco Cervelli or Austin Romine will be serviceable backups for Brian McCann, but Buck would have been more than serviceable.

    Between Buck and McCann, the Yankees might have been able to get 50 HRs out of the catcher position this year. And since the Yankees do not have a backup 1B at the moment and don’t appear to be pursuing either Mark Reynolds or Michael Young, either Buck or McCann could probably fill that role quite well. McCann still can, but I would still prefer to have Buck over Cervelli or Romine.

    Well done, Mariners. I guess that you deserve a break after overpaying for Robinson Cano, who will probably never hit .300 or more than 20 HRs or 100 RBIs or 100 runs scored ever again, that is until the Yankees bring him back to New York with the Mariners paying half of his salary.

    • ludafish 2 years ago

      Watching Buck for two years in Miami, he actually hits a lot of balls the other way. Opening day 2011 he hit an opposite field grand slam and hit a few more over the years. With that short porch in right, and his good and professional attitude, this would have been a good deal for NYY i think as well. He would probably hit 20 HR again playing for the Yankees. But i guess they are ok with Romine and Cervelli backing up and putting the money other places.

    • BB_dont_R 2 years ago

      Gordon Gecko says “Greed is Good.” Your right a McCann Buck tandem would have been great especially in the regard that it would have allowed more DH days for McCann… But don’t give up on the Yankees “Greed” yet. They have to scrimp and save all their pennies, or in this case $1M, for Tanaka next week. After that happens and you go into seasons with Tanaka, C.C., Kuroda, Pineda/Nova/Phelps you will probably feel some of that “Greed” slightly satisfied. Especially considering the savings you have seen last weekend on A-Fraud that almost covers Beltran and McCann’s salaries this season, and like you mentioned the good since to not over extend on Cano.

  12. BB_dont_R 2 years ago

    Great signing for the M’s. Kinda thought this would be a good fit for both Seattle and Buck before the signing today. He played the last two seasons between the fish tank, citi, and a little time in Pittsburgh. Going to Seattle shouldn’t have much impact on his bat, and you have to think after how well Harvey pitched with Buck at backstop that Tijuan Walker may be the major reason why big Z raided the bargain shelf after breaking the bank on Cano.

  13. Mike Blowers 2 years ago

    M’s have some solid catching depth now. Now we need some darn outfielders!

    • Marinersforever71 2 years ago

      A trade w/ the Blue Jays could work out to bring both Bautista & Cecil to Seattle for help in the outfield & bullpen in order to compete in the division & American League just like what the Pittsburgh Pirates have done this past season by surprising everyone in baseball.

  14. selw0nk 2 years ago

    Jesus Montero must be a bust.

    • connfyoozed . 2 years ago

      Not sure if he is a bust yet, but I have read that the M’s no longer think he can cut it defensively as a catcher. If he makes it, it will be at another position or as a DH.

  15. Derpington 2 years ago

    Good move for M’s. Thought he would go to the White Sox to backup Tyler Flowers or even start if Flowers struggles like he did last year.

  16. alexamato 2 years ago

    Great move, great money

  17. Jared 2 years ago

    Pretty good signing. Weaknesses aside, Buck has incredible power and will be able to hit HRs, even at home.

  18. Jared 2 years ago

    The other thing to consider is that Buck was born in southwestern Wyoming and went to high school near Salt Lake City, Utah. He might have wanted to experience playing in the west coast/pacific northwest.

  19. Dave Erhardt 2 years ago

    I thought for a long time that John Buck was a catching option for the M’s. He has some power and has hit as many as 20 homers, he hit 15 last year playing for 2 teams. His stats as a defensive catcher concern me, but Zunino will be doing the majority of the catching anyway.

  20. GD 2 years ago

    Montero has to be moved in a package with Franklin after this move. Plus we have Sucre as a + defender (non-hitter though) as an emergency callup.

    I was reviewing Seattle top prospects and Churchhill’s analysis on each of them. Of course the focus is on Franklins value, and all the talk is the value of Walker and Paxton. But after reviewing the top 15 with the Scouting reports, I have to say I’m getting pretty excited about a few of these names:

    1. Peterson 3B (possibly 1B or even corner OF)
    2. Ty Kelly 2B/3B (This guys BB% is outstanding with 20.2% in AAA in 2013, and never less than 10% BB% in his entire minor league career since 2009)
    3. Pryor’s is just going to be a stud
    4. Choi 1B/DH (wow! Very high OBP at all levels from Single A through AAA, even hitting 459, 420, 427, 333 (in AA), 333 (in AAA))

    • GD 2 years ago

      I purposely left out the guys that all the talk has been about: Walker, Paxton, Franklin, Miller.

      This actually makes me less hesitant on trading Seager/Franklin/Miller, since it’s been reported that TONS of teams since the GM meetings have been calling the M’s on him and salivating.

      I know Seattle has the prospects to land someone like Stanton, but after reviewing Peterson/Ty Kelly/Pryor/Choi/Franklin/Miller/Seager, I truly believe that Seattle could put together an amazing package for Stanton AND Still have an awesome Farm system after a Stanton trade.

      We are so light on OF depth, but so deep with these top IF guys. A package surrounding Seager/Franklin/Ackley/Paxton/Smoak as a starting point could very well be an attractive package for Stanton. That is giving away nearly 25 years of club control to Miami for a Stanton trade. That may seem like too much, but we’d keep Walker, and run with Peterson Or Ty Kelly at 3B and Choi Or Peterson at 1B, with Stanton in RF and Hart DHing.

      • GD 2 years ago

        Ty Kelly has OBP numbers even better than Choo, but he hits better than Choo too. I think Ty Kelly is ready for prime time and a callup

      • Marinersforever71 2 years ago

        Package Nick Franklin, Justin Smoak, Pryor or Maurer, Tyler Pike, Choi or Peterson, and Marcus Littlewood or John Hicks to the Blue Jays for Bret Cecil & Jose Bautista as Bautista can provide help in the outfield & offense in order to compete in the division and American League to save GM Jack Z’s job security. Then, trade Smoak to the Pirates for Jose Tabata or to bring back Travis Snider. The Jays can use help at second base & young pitching to rebuild for the next few years on top of Hicks/Littlewood being the future catcher in Toronto. I would pull off the trade if were AA & Jack Z.

  21. jakejarmel 2 years ago

    it must be rough to be a seattle sports fan

    • John Kreese 2 years ago

      We’ll let you know after the Hawks beat the 49ers on Sunday & Tanaka signs with the M’s.

      • Marinersforever71 2 years ago

        Should both happens, going after Jose Bautista will be a better option to help Seattle sports scene being happy to have him along w/ Bret Cecil (bullpen help as a set up man or closer) on board by possibly giving up Nick Franklin, Smoak, and few other pieces in order to compete for the playoffs by going farther to ALCS & possibly World Series.

  22. goorru 2 years ago

    Buck is a horrible defensive catcher. His mechanics blocking balls is terrible.

  23. DogleggedWalnut 2 years ago

    Do you know Mariners catchers? Olivo, Quiroz, Bantz, ROB JOHNSON, Quintero, etc. All Mariners C have been bad since Wilson with Johjima being the best.

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