The Mariners have designated veteran catcher John Buck for assignment, according to Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times (Twitter link). He notes in a followup tweet that it seems likely the Mariners will recall Jesus Sucre from Triple-A Tacoma.
Buck, who turned 34 years old Monday, inked a one-year, $1MM contract with the Mariners to serve as the backup to young catcher Mike Zunino. He’s struggled to get on base and hit for average in recent years, but he’d shown good pop until this season with Seattle. In 27 games (92 plate appearances), Buck was hitting just .226/.293/.286 with one home run.
Divish notes that the move likely won’t go over well in the Mariners’ locker room, as Buck was popular among his teammates. He adds, however, that there had been growing concern from the Mariners’ decision-makers over Buck’s receiving and blocking skills with the staff — particularly the team’s harder-throwing pitchers. Indeed, Buck grades out poorly in terms of pitch-framing metrics (per StatCorner.com’s Matthew Carruth and per Baseball Prospectus), although that’s hardly a new trend. Buck had one passed ball on the season and had been behind the dish for 11 wild pitches in just 164 innings, so the Mariners likely felt that some of those could have been blocked.
A veteran of 11 Major League seasons between the Royals, Blue Jays, Marlins, Mets, Pirates and Mariners, Buck is a lifetime .234/.301/.398 hitter.