By Shannon Drayer
Update: According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, the Mariners have agreed to a 1-year, $1 million deal with John Buck. The team has yet to confirm and as noted below will have to make a move to get him on the 40-man roster.
According to a tweet by FOXSports.com’s Jon Paul Morosi Monday night, the Mariners are close to signing a little insurance and a backup for Mike Zunino behind the plate.
Morosi tweeted that the team was making progress on an agreement with veteran catcher John Buck and was “very close” to a one-year deal.
Buck – a 10-year veteran who broke into the big leagues with Kansas City in 2004 – has played for Toronto, Florida, the New York Mets and Pittsburgh. He brings .234/.301/.400/.701 career line with him and has a reputation for being a decent defender behind the plate.
Although the Mariners are comfortable giving Zunino every chance to catch the bulk of the games in 2014, they are still thin organizationally in the catching department with only Jesus Sucre on the 40-man roster. While Sucre showed some nice work behind the plate in his brief time with the Mariners last year, he has even less experience at the big-league level than Zunino.
In Buck, 33, the Mariners have a guy who has been the No. 1 catcher for a long time and this should benefit Zunino and give them a little bit of insurance at the position should they need it.
With the 40-man roster full, a move will have to be made before Buck can be added once he’s signed.
• The Mariners have annnounced their list of 19 non-roster invitees to spring training. Joining the 40-man roster in major-league camp will be Jonathan Arias, Andrew Carraway, Roenis Elias, James Gillheeney, Nick Hill, Stephen Kolhscheen, Dominic Loene, Matt Palmer, Ramon Ramirez, Chance Ruffin, Carson Smith, Mike Dowd, John Hicks, Humberto Quintero, Ty Kelly, Gabriel Noriega, Chris Taylor, Nate Tenbrink and Cole Gillespie.
I was a little surprised to not see last year’s top pick, DJ Peterson, on the list. Peterson is coming off a horrific jaw injury and is doing well. According to director of player development Chris Gwynn he is fully recovered and will participate in the minor-league minicamp in February.
Gwynn told me that for him it was not out of the ordinary to not have a first pick in big-league camp and that Peterson – who was drafted in June – most likely will get plenty of opportunities to play on the major-league side in split-squad games and other situations.
As for young players like Chris Taylor, Dominic Leone and Carson Smith, Gwynn sees this camp as a great opportunity for them to show what they can do.
“Just go out and compete,” he said of his expectations for them. “It is all about execution. Get your game faces, gain confidence, know you are good enough.”
• Join us for the “Hot Stove League Show” Tuesday on 710 ESPN Seattle, sports.mynorthwest.com and Mariners.com. Dan Wilson will join Rick Rizzs and me in studio and our guests will included Nick Franklin, Brandon Maurer, new first base/outfield coach Andy Van Slyke and Aaron Goldsmith.