Mets catcher John Buck has been the surprise story so far this season. In the words of Jacobim Mugatu of the movie Zoolander; “That John Buck is so hot right now.”
His hot start has surprised everyone around baseball, even the Mets. Let us not forget how the Mets obtained Buck. He was a “throw-in” in one of the biggest trades of the off-season when the Mets sent Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey to the Blue Jays for prized catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud.
Buck was seen as a veteran catcher who could fill the void until d’Arnaud was ready. Buck has hit for decent power in years past, but last year was his worst offensive season (.192 BA, 12 homeruns and 41 RBI in 106 games). At the time of the trade the Mets thought they were getting Buck for his defensive skills.
Oh, the difference a year makes.
Entering Thursday’s snow out against the Rockies, Buck was batting .326, lead the National League in RBI (19) and was second in the league in home runs (6).
John Buck, (44) is congratulated by teammates on Friday night after he hit a grand slam in a 16-5 win over the Twins. PHOTO COURTESY: JIM MONE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
So what does this mean for Buck and the Mets? A lot is yet to be determined, but if he keeps up his hot start, the Mets should consider trading him when d’Arnaud is ready to make the jump to the majors.
Last week, it was reported that the Mets would be “monitoring” the situations of both Giancarlo Stanton in Miami and Carlos Gonzalez in Colorado. In either one of these scenarios, the Mets would have to part with d’Arnaud or power pitching prospect Zack Wheeler (maybe even both prospects).
Realistically, no team wants to build around a 32 soon to be 33-year-old catcher who is one home plate collision away from ending his career; so holding on to d’Arnaud would be wise.
If the Mets found a way to parlay Buck into another prospect or two, their rebuilding phase would almost be complete. Let us not forget that in the Dickey deal, they also got 20-year-old pitcher Noah Syndergaard who has been ranked anywhere in the top 50 prospects in all of baseball.
A few things would have to happen before a Buck trade could even be discussed. First, the Mets would have to fall out of playoff contention before the trade deadline. The fast start that they have jumped out to has even the most pessimistic Mets fans thinking “hey, you never know.”
However, most people around the organization know that they are still a few years away from getting back to the playoffs. The team is expected to slow down as the year progresses, just like they did last year and many years before that.
Second, Buck would have to keep hitting while the Mets falter. Three weeks is a small sample size, but Bucks production in the first month of the season makes it easier for members of the media (myself included) to gossip about his future. If Buck falls off, he’ll just become another feel good April story for the Mets.
But if he doesn’t and the Mets hit a cold streak, expect Buck to be slugging homeruns for another team by the end of the summer.
Mets fans don’t want to see that happening now, but let’s see how everyone is feeling once July comes around.
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