Some rumors have swirled around New York Mets spring training that the club may be shopping utility infielder Justin Turner and catcher John Buck, possibly trading either one before the end of spring training. If the Mets are hoping to trim their 40-man roster, then they should entertain trading Turner, but by no means should they be shopping Buck.
Turner is expendable. He doesn’t provide much power, and while he can play both second base and shortstop, the Mets will have a more defense-oriented player to back up the middle infielders. At turner’s expense, the Mets could place Zach Lutz on their opening day roster. Lutz could back up first and third base as well as Turner could, but he would provide more power off the bench than Turner would.
But in the case of Buck, the Mets would be making a big mistake to trade him away. First of all, they need Buck to be their primary catcher at the start of the season, as youngster Travis d’Arnaud will likely spend at least the first month of the season in AAA, possibly longer. But even after d’Arnaud is brought up to the majors, the Mets will still need to keep Buck around. Although d’Arnaud is arguably the top catching prospect in all of baseball, there’s no guarantee of instant success, so the Mets should still have a competent backup available. There’s also the issue of d’Arnaud’s injury history, meaning the Mets must be cautious before assuming that d’Arnaud will be able to handle the full-time catching duties without getting hurt.
As much as the trade for d’Arnaud gave the Mets their catcher of the future, the team still lacks depth at that position, and should have no reason to part with Buck, because there are no reliable backups in the organization besides him. Moreover, Buck is the established veteran catcher that the Mets have been lacking on their roster for many years, seemingly since they had Paul Lo Duca. Buck’s value comes from more than just his hitting stats; he knows how to handle a pitching staff and he’ll provide a suitable mentor to d’Arnaud. He also gives the club another strong veteran presence in the clubhouse, something that’s still missing on a relatively young team.
So if the Mets are looking to trim some fat from their 40-man roster, Turner may be the way to go. As for Buck, he’s not a guy the Mets should be trying to get rid of, as he’ll be an important piece of the puzzle in 2013.