Lost in all the excitement of the New York Mets trading away R.A. Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for top prospects Travis d’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard is the fact that catcher John Buck was also a part of the deal and projects to be the opening day catcher for the Mets, taking over for Josh Thole, who was also included in the trade to the Blue Jays. On the surface, Buck may appear to be just a throw-in, but in a lot of ways he is an upgrade over Thole as the team’s primary catcher, which Buck will be, at least to start the season.
For starters, Buck is a much-needed right-handed bat that will help balance out the Mets lefty-heavy lineup. Buck is also more suited to hit later in the order, as opposed to Thole, who is well-suited to hit in the two spot, but failed to hit for a high enough average to be placed there on a consistent basis. The Mets will also get a much-needed power upgrade at the catcher position from Buck, who has averaged 16 home runs over the past three years, and should give the Mets a double-digit home run total in 2013, even if he gets moved into a part-time role.
Defensively, Buck should also be considered an upgrade over Thole. While not brilliant defensively, Buck is an established veteran catcher, as opposed to Thole, who was still learning the position and still striving to make significant improvements in the defensive part of his game. Buck has a lot more experience handling a pitching staff than Thole does, and when the time comes, Buck will be able to help d’Arnaud grow accustomed to handling a major-league pitching staff.
While d’Arnaud is certainly the catcher of the future for the Mets, until he is ready to make his Mets debut, Buck is more than capable of holding down the catching duties for the Mets, and will give the Mets a lot of things they’ve been missing at the catcher position for the past couple years.