Mariners close to signing John Buck

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Seattle is “very close” to signing catcher John Buck to a one-year contract, according to Jon Morosi of FOXSports.com.

Buck has been a starter for most of the past decade, but he’d serve as a veteran backup to Mike Zunino with the Mariners.

Buck has always had good power for a catcher and smacked 15 homers in 110 games for the Mets and Pirates last season, but he also hit just .219 with a ghastly .285 on-base percentage and .648 OPS. He hasn’t cracked a .700 OPS since 2009, so transitioning to a part-time role at age 33 makes sense.

Cubs have considered trading Ben Zobrist

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The Athletic’s Sahadev Sharma reports that the Cubs have considered trading super-utilityman Ben Zobrist in order to free up payroll space, which would allow the club to address other areas of the roster.

Zobrist, 37, is entering the final year of his contract and will earn $12 million in 2019. According to Cot’s Contracts, the Cubs project to have an Opening Day payroll of about $204.5 million, just a hair below the luxury tax threshold of $206 million. The Cubs have notably been absent from the free agent marketplace, particularly involving Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, due to luxury tax concerns.

Last season, Zobrist hit .305/.378/.440 with nine home runs, 58 RBI, and 67 runs scored in 520 plate appearances. He played all over the field, logging 100-plus innings in both outfield corners and second base while also spending a handful of games at first base. With Addison Russell serving a 40-game suspension to open the 2019 season, Javier Báez will handle shortstop and Zobrist figures to be the starting second baseman.