The Mariners appear close to adding another veteran backup for catcher Mike Zunino, a 22-year-old cornerstone in their ongoing rebuilding project.
Club officials are “making progress” in talks with John Buck, according to a twitter report posted Monday night by Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com. Buck, 33, batted .219 last season with 15 homers and 62 RBIs in 110 games for the New York Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Mariners previously re-signed Humberto Quintero, 34, to a minor-league contract that includes an invitation to big-league camp. He batted .224 with two homers and four RBIs in 67 at-bats over 22 games after signing July 26 as a free agent following his release by Philadelphia.
Zunino reached the majors last season less than one year after being the third overall pick in the 2012 draft. He batted .214 with five homers and 14 RBIs in 52 games despite missing more than a month because of a broken bone in his left hand. That injury prompted the Mariners to sign Quintero the first time.
The only other catcher currently on the Mariners’ 40-man roster is rookie Jesus Sucre, who played just eight games last season before offering a season-ending wrist injury on June 4.
Buck became a free agent after completing a three-year deal for $18 million signed in November 2010 with the Marlins. He is a 10-year veteran who spent his first six seasons with Kansas City before bouncing to Toronto, Florida/Miami, the Mets and Pirates over the last four seasons. He was picked as an All-Star in 2010 while playing for the Blue Jays.
A notoriously streaky hitter, Buck has 133 homers and 485 RBIs while batting .234 in 1,058 career games. He has a .301 career on-base percentage along with a .400 slugging percentage. His defensive metrics are mixed, and is WAR (wins above replacement) rating averages about a plus one-half game per season.