When the New York Mets traded R.A. Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays this past offseason, catcher John Buck was considered to be a throw-in player in the trade and nothing more than a placeholder for catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud, who was the key figure in the trade outside of Dickey.
Even though d’Arnaud remains the key player in that trade, Buck has become so much more than a placeholder for the Mets this season.
When the trade was first made, it was assumed that the Mets would let Buck go in free agency at the end of the season, or possibly try to trade him mid-season after d’Arnaud was called up and established himself as the everyday catcher. But not only has the injury to d’Arnaud changed those plans, but Buck’s strong performance both offensively and defensively have made a difference as well.
He has cooled off a lot from his hot start in April, but the catcher is still the Mets’ leader in home runs and RBI’s, albeit on a weak offensive team. He’s also been a workhorse behind the plate, catching nearly every game this season, and has done a fine job working with a relatively young pitching staff. Buck has been one of the few bright spots on the Mets this year, and one of their more valuable players.
Once d’Arnaud returns from injury and finally earns his promotion to the big leagues, Buck’s playing time will diminish, but that doesn’t mean he still won’t be a valuable player for the Mets. Buck and d’Arnaud forged a good mentor-mentee relationship during spring training, and it would benefit d’Arnaud and the Mets for the two catchers to continue that relationship, at least for the rest of the season once d’Arnaud comes up to the big leagues.
Although Buck’s role would be relatively small next year, there’d be much d’Arnaud could benefit from by spending an entire season in the big league’s with a veteran mentor like Buck.
While he may have seemed like a throw-away player and potential trade bait at the time, Buck is a keeper for the Mets, for both this year and next year.