Washington Nationals Rumors: John Buck is Best Backup Catcher Option

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

As the Winter Meetings begin today, the word is that the Washington Nationals have smaller moves on their mind as they begin their discussions in Orlando. Washington still needs at least one left-handed reliever, though two certainly would not be bad, as well as a veteran backup catcher to help both Wilson Ramos and the young pitching staff along.

Washington seems to be pursuing solid players who also have a nice clubhouse presence. Their other bench signing this winter, Nate McLouth, is known as a good clubhouse presence, and the argument could be made that the Nationals sorely missed a personality in 2013 like the one they had in Mark DeRosa during their magical 2012 season.

With a need at backup catcher, Washington’s top priority at the Winter Meetings should be John Buck, who spent his 2013 with the New York Mets and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Buck went to the Mets in the R.A. Dickey trade, and was seen as the placeholder in Flushing for the centerpiece of the deal in Travis D’Arnaud. Buck made Mets fans forget about D’Arnaud — at least for the first month or two of 2013. In 101 games for the Mets, he hit 15 home runs and had 60 RBIs with a .215/.285/.367 slash line before being dealt to Pittsburgh.

At 33, Buck is probably on his way to transitioning to being a backup catcher for the next team he plays for, as he has shown he is no longer consistent enough offensively to play everyday. However, he is more than capable of stepping in for an injured player for a month or two as he can get hot for a month.

In 2013, Buck’s April was red hot as he hit .241/.269/.575 with nine home runs and 25 RBIs. He followed that hot April up with a much cooler May as he hit .212/.302/.306 with a home run and 10 RBIs. Since Buck’s run in April, he hit six home runs the rest of the season, and never hit more than two in a month.

Buck is without a doubt the Nationals’ best option to backup Ramos at catcher. He has the most recent experience starting, he has personality which will play well in the clubhouse, and he would probably come relatively cheap. Buck would be a solid option, and there’s no reason why Washington should not pursue him.

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