Veteran catcher John Buck got off to a quick start for the Mets this year, crushing nine home runs over the first month of the season. A throw-in as a part of the R.A. Dickey trade last offseason, Buck looked like he actually might be able to establish a little value for himself if he could at least continue popping home runs with some regularity over the next few months.
Unfortunately, some hard regression set in and since May 1st, Buck has hit a woeful .186/.271/.279 with 4 home runs and what seems like a boatload of strikeouts. His overall line for the year sits at .205/.270/.378 with 13 home runs and 6 doubles, which is not all that different from what he did the last two seasons with the Marlins. Buck turns 33 on Sunday and he makes $6.5 million this season, after which he can become a free agent.
Buck's availability somewhat hinges on how soon Travis d'Arnaud returns from his broken foot. The Mets' catcher of the future is slowly working his way back into game shape but it seems incredibly unlikely that he'll be ready to play in the majors before the July 31 trading deadline. If the Mets were to move Buck anyway, Anthony Recker could probably hold the fort as the starter with somebody like Las Vegas catcher Juan Centeno backing up for a bit until d'Arnaud returns. It wouldn't be ideal but with Buck an impending free agent, they should make a move if they can get anything of value in return. Of course, the Mets have talked up Buck's game-calling and leadership skills, so it wouldn't be a surprise if they kept him around to work with the team's starting pitchers and d'Arnaud when he's eventually promoted.
The Trade Market
Teams looking for a veteran catcher to back up would have interest in Buck. If a catcher gets hurt in the next few weeks, that could also serve to help make him a little more attractive. Alex Avila has struggled all season as the Tigers' starting catcher, the Yankees have gotten almost nothing out of Chris Stewart and Austin Romine, and the Rangers, Blue Jays, Reds, and Orioles could all potentially use a decent backup option.
Assuming a team isn't completely desperate for a catcher right before the trade deadline or Buck doesn't get scorching hot soon, it's probably not going to be much on his own, even if the Mets eat the remainder of Buck's salary this season. No matter how many home runs he has, a catcher hitting .205 with a .270 on base percentage seems incredibly unlikely to command a whole lot in return. If the Mets are truly interested in dealing Buck, they'd probably be better off packaging him with another player. With the Tigers getting little from the catcher position and also needing a closer, perhaps packaging him with Bobby Parnell would help the Mets to net a better player in return.