The Seattle Mariners released backup catcher John Buck Tuesday. The Mariners designated the 11-year veteran for assignment on July 7 – his birthday, no less – a move that gave them 10 days to release, waive or trade Buck.
Buck spent the first half of the 2014 season backing up 2012's third-overall draft pick Mike Zunino. Buck posted a .226/.293/.286 slash line in 92 plate appearances this season. While that type of offensive output is not uncommon at pitcher-friendly Safeco Field, Seattle Times Mariners beat writer Ryan Divish reported last week that in addition to his offensive shortcomings, the team had expressed "growing concerns about Buck’s defense and receiving and blocking.”
Mariners Manager Lloyd McClendon echoed these sentiments by saying the DFA move was made in order to improve both defense and endurance at the backup catcher position.
The move cast a pall over the Mariners clubhouse that was unusually grim for a player of Buck’s on-field output. Divish tweeted that the mood in the clubhouse following Buck’s designation was as if the team had just suffered a “12-inning loss” even though the move came after a 2-0 victory over Minnesota.
Buck was widely perceived as adding off-field value because he facilitated a positive clubhouse atmosphere.
Jesus Sucre was activated from triple-A Tacoma last week to replace Buck. McClendon attributed Sucre’s call-up in part to his defensive abilities.
- Will Green