John Buck, 33, finished a three-year, $18-million contract last season and has signed with the Mariners on a one-year $1-million contract. Originally with the Marlins, Buck went to the Blue Jays to the Mets, and then to the Pirates. Buck started hot last season with an .844 OPS and 9 home runs in April — but cooled off over the course of the year. He ended the season with a .219/.285/.362 line and 15 home runs over 431 plate appearances. Buck has played in 100 or more games in eight of the last nine years with a lifetime .701 OPS.
Mike Zunino figures to be the M’s primary catcher for 2014. They also have 25-year-old Jesus Sucre and veteran Humberto Quintero available. At first glance, Buck looks to be Zunino’s backup, however Zunino could need to spend more time in the minors and Buck’s experience as a starter makes him a viable alternative to start regularly for the team if that happens. Since Dioner Navarro signed with Toronto, Buck has been the best remaining free agent option.
Jeff Sullivan: Incidentally, John Buck would represent one possible Mike Zunino career path. Hardly out of the question.
AL West Commentary
The Yankees need Tanaka. Badly. The Dodgers just want him. If the Dodgers do end up with the right-hander, who went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last year, it would tell us that the Yankees are no longer the Yankees. The Dodgers are now the Yankees. Their stadium just happens to have palm trees running along it instead of a subway line.
It’s just hard to imagine “want” can win the day over “need,” particularly when the Yankees are the ones feeling desperate. If the Dodgers do win the bidding, it’d be hard to find a team around baseball who would feel sorry for the Bronx Bombers. Source: Mark Saxon at ESPN LA
The Texas Rangers acknowledged on Tuesday that left-hander Derek Holland underwent micro-fracture surgery on the left knee last week. The procedure underscores why the Rangers have said they are planning on Holland to be out until the All-Star break. In the surgery, Rangers medical director Dr. Keith Meister created tiny fractures in the kneecap. The fractures are designed to stimulate the growth of new cartilage in the area. Micro-fracture surgery requires a longer rehab time than routine arthroscopic surgery. Right-hander Scott Feldman underwent micro-fracture knee surgery while with the Rangers in November 2010. He returned to the majors on July 22, 2011. Source: Gerry Fraley at the Dallas Morning News (This is the same type of surgery that Corey Hart underwent and takes substantial recovery time.)
[Holland has] cartilage damage, not ligament, the Rangers will add depth. [GM Jon] Daniels said the Rangers don’t expect to add a front line starter through free agency. From: T.R. Sullivan at MLB.com
So they said
In announcing his retirement due to shoulder problems, Dallas Braden said that his biggest moment would be the perfect game he pitched on Mother’s Day. Braden’s mother, Jodie Atwood, died of cancer when he was a teenager but his grandmother, Peggy Lindsey, was in attendance for the perfecto. “That game will always define the one solid day of work I had and the fact that I got to share it with my grandmother, only a few people appreciate the magnitude of that,” Braden said. “That was living the dream.” Source: Cash Kruth at MLB.com
Mariner’s potential off-season targets
Chad Gaudin, who turns 31 in March, went to camp as a non-roster player with the Giants last season and ended up pitching to a 3.06 ERA in 97 innings while making 12 starts and 18 relief appearances, which added up to a 1.3 WAR season with 88 SO and 40 BB and a 109 ERA+. He would be a nice depth piece for the Mariners, fitting both in the pen and rotation as needed.
Scott Baker update: Twins haven’t had interest this offseason. Told he is throwing and feels great. Only has MiLB offers. Hoping for MLB one. From: Darren Wolfson at 1500 ESPN Baker who will in his age 32 season this year did not pitch in 2012 and only threw 15 innings with the Chicago Cubs last season but at least he put up +.2 WAR, with a 3.60 ERA and 112 ERA+.
Consensus in Japan right now is that Yankees and Dodgers are favorites on Tanaka and word is his wife prefers to be on West Coast. From: David Waldstein at the New York Times
Sources: The Orioles, Twins and Yankees recently requested medical reports on free-agent RHP Ervin Santana. The Yankees, however were only doing due diligence. Santana, a fly ball pitcher, is a poor fit for Yankees. The Twins, too, are unlikely for Santana and other FA starters. Three Twins starters – Worley, Diamond and Deduno – are out of options. The team already has signed free agents Nolasco, Hughes, Pelfrey to go with Correia. From: Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports
The Twins had three scouts at a showcase in Mexico over the weekend. They watched Cuban pitchers Odrisamer Despaigne and Misael Siverio. From: Darren Wolfson at 1500 ESPN
Source: The red flags that came up about Grant Balfour‘s physical state were about his wrist and knee, and not about his shoulder. From: Buster Olney at ESPN
Doug Miller at MLB.com has put together mini-bios on some available under-the-radar outfielders, including:
Chris Coghlan, OF: Is it way past the time to look at Coghlan’s National League Rookie of the Year Award-winning season of 2009 and think that he can play back to that year, when he hit .321/.390/.460 with 84 runs and 31 doubles? Perhaps, but he has had injury problems since, and he hasn’t had more than 358 at-bats since, so it might be worth a non-roster invite to see if there’s anything left in the tank, especially since he won’t turn 29 until June.
Derrick Robinson, OF: Maybe Robinson doesn’t get on base enough for the liking of a lot of teams, but he wasn’t horrendous in that respect in his first taste of the big leagues last year for Cincinnati. He’s shown throughout his Minor League career that he can steal bases when he gets on. Forty-four strikeouts in 192 at-bats isn’t good, but 18 walks isn’t bad. There might be a bit of plate-discipline upside here at the age of 26.
Tyler Colvin, OF: Colvin hit 20 homers for the Cubs in his rookie season of 2010 before suffering a slew of injuries. He came back to full strength in 2012 and hit 18 homers, drove in 72 runs and put up an OPS of .858 for Colorado. Last year he got only 75 big-league at-bats and hit three homers, but he had a .857 OPS in Triple-A. It might be too early to say Colvin’s days as a productive Major League hitter are over, and it won’t cost much to find out.
Baseball Best Practice
“There are only so many chances to be a champion, and I will never stop believing that if you have a chance, you take the opportunity. We’ve got a lot of holes to fill, and our job is to try to make the right decision 70 percent of the time, not the wrong decision 70 percent of the time.” ” Ruben Amaro, Jr, Phillies GM Source: Bob Ford at the Philadelphia Inquirer
By The Numbers
Seattle used seven catchers in 2013 — Zunino, Montero, Quintero, Sucre, Kelly Shoppach, Henry Blanco and Brandon Bantz. Source: Greg Johns at MLB
“In 300 games in 2011-12, Dustin Pedroia grounded into 21 double plays. In 160 games in 2013, Pedroia grounded into 24.” Source: The Bill Chuck Files
The 10 players with the most home runs in the history of Safeco Field? Raul Ibanez 83, Bret Boone 62, Richie Sexson 55, Edgar Martinez and Adrian Beltre 54,Ichiro Suzuki 53, John Olerud 42, Alex Rodriguez 40,Jose Lopez 38 and Mike Cameron 30. And in case you’re wondering, Ken Griffey Jr. is 11th with 29. Greg Johns at MLB
Ronny Cedeno has been signed by the Phillies. He has played for six teams, including the Mariners. Much like non-roster player Yuniesky Betancourt last spring, he will push Freddy Galvis and Kevin Frandsen for work as a utility infielder. Reid Brignac, another non-roster player, will also be in the infield mix. “He gives us more depth in the middle infield,” GM Reuben Amaro said of Cedeno. “The whole point of bringing him in is if we have an injury or a problem, we have a veteran guy. He’ll fight it out for a spot. We’re not giving any jobs away. He’s got extensive major-league experience. Hopefully he’ll push guys.” Source: Jim Salisbury at CSN Philly