The Mariners won last night but Seattle Times reporter Ryan Divish says the atmosphere in the clubhouse afterward was “similar to a 12-inning loss.” Why? Because, as Divish reports, the M’s designated popular veteran catcher John Buck for assignment.
Buck was hitting .226/.293/.286 with one homer in 84 at-bats this season. This is the sort of production they probably should’ve expected from Buck when they signed him to a one-year, $1 million deal back in January and they’re not likely to receive better production behind the plate from any internal replacements (they are likely to call up Jesus Sucre from Tacoma). But Divish notes that there were “concerns about Buck’s defense and receiving and blocking from the Mariners crew of hard throwers” among M’s brass, so he’s out.
This may bug M’s players and maybe some M’s fans. But, assuming those fears about Buck’s defense are well-founded, it’s the kind of around-the-edges improvements that teams in the playoff hunt make to improve their chances. Maybe Buck is still on the team is they’re a dozen games back of the wild card leaders. But that’s not where the Mariners are these days, and when you’re contending sometimes you gotta make tough choices.
Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.
That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.
Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.