How John Buck’s Deal Has Held Up

This off-season we’ve seen 13 catchers sign major league deals — 14 if we count Victor Martinez among them. For the most part these deals were modest in nature, between $3 and $5 million per season for a short span. The exception is John Buck, who signed a three-year, $18 million contract early in the free agency season. While the initial reaction pegged it as a poor deal, there was a chance that the deal could look a bit better once the rest of the off-season unfolded. A month later, it appears to be the opposite.

After the Marlins signed Buck, three comparable catchers also signed contracts. Rod Barajas went for a year and $3.25 million to the Dodgers, Miguel Olivo signed for two years and $7 million with the Mariners, and Yorvit Torrealba went to the Rangers for two years and $6.25 million. For a look at the quality of each catcher, we need only turn to our WAR graphs.

They all appear to be in the same range, which makes sense. They did, after all, sign somewhat similar deals. But that purple line does appear curious, though. While at the top it’s right in line with its orange, blue, and green counterparts, it dips below later. It suggests that Buck is the least of the four catchers. Yet he signed the largest deal. Might the Marlins have been better off waiting out the market and signing a catcher who could provide similar production for less money and a shorter commitment?

There is definitely a case there, but it’s not as concrete as the WAR graph makes it out to be — though we can take our first cue from it. Buck’s line is a bit shorter than the others, because he’s a bit younger. In fact, he’s two years younger than both Torrealba and Olivo, and he’s five years younger than Barajas. That might account for the commitment aspect. The Marlins felt they could offer him more years, because he could hold up longer than the other catchers on the market.

Then there’s the career year aspect to consider. Buck had the best year, at least offensively, among the four. But it was by a long shot his best season. Might the Marlins have seen something that suggests he can retain some of his power surge? Keith Law suggested this might be the case in his Top 50 free agents feature. It’s tough for us to know whether that’s the case or not. But we do know that many a free agent has fooled teams with a big walk year. There’s a better chance that Buck falls back into his regular 1 WAR range than repeat his nearly 3 WAR season.

The Marlins had better hope they know something that the rest of us do not. Otherwise, they just committed more years and more average annual value to a mediocre catcher than other teams did to comparable players. There was hope at the time that later developments in the free agent market would make Buck’s deal seem a bit more palatable. Unfortunately for the Marlins, it appears that just the opposite has happened.



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Joe also writes about the Yankees at River Ave. Blues.


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tbr
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tbr
5 years 7 months ago

Hats off to John Buck for parlaying a career year that was fueled by a fluky BABIP into a fleecing of the Marlins. At least pitchers like throwing to him.

Jenny
Guest
Jenny
5 years 7 months ago

Fuckshitassbuttrippertrippershitfucker

Mick
Guest
Mick
5 years 7 months ago

Someone has a very nasty mouth on it…

Cheese Whiz
Guest
Cheese Whiz
5 years 7 months ago

I get all the down votes. But really I’m just curious, what is this? What does it mean?

anonymous
Guest
anonymous
5 years 7 months ago

This is the start of crunch time for seasons tickets for the new stadium–if there’s something they can do to shed the “Marlins always lose their good players, never sign anybody” tag, it might make sense to do it.

Matt
Guest
Matt
5 years 7 months ago

Yeah but why waste money to just say you spent it? If you are going to do that you might as well look for a productive player to throw money at.

Steve
Guest
Steve
5 years 7 months ago

Russell Martin looks like the best catching “deal” of the winter.

Krog
Guest
Krog
5 years 7 months ago

I don’t think this is the best graph to use to evaluate the off-season signings. Instead of nth-season on the x-axis, player age would allow for an easier comparison.

Andy S
Guest
Andy S
5 years 7 months ago

It has held up better than Joe Buck’s, I can tell you that.

Peter Gentleman
Guest
Peter Gentleman
5 years 7 months ago

$18 mil is a lot of money when John Baker is already a better player than Buck is.

Nicholas
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Nicholas
5 years 7 months ago

Without commenting on what John Buck’s future value may be, I’d point out that that graph is totally useless. Or at least the conclusion drawn from it. Sure, he’s had the worst seventh-best season of the four catchers shown. However, he’s only had seven seasons total, compared to 9-12 seasons for the others. Simply based on a normal distribution of seasons, it’s only to be expected that his worst season would be worth less than someone else’s fourth- or fifth-from-worst season.

What if you aligned the graph the other way? Line up their worst seasons together, then their second-worst, third-worst, etc. In that case, Buck would not only have (barely) the best of the worst seasons, but the best second-worst, best sixth-worst and clearly best seventh-worst (that is, his best) season.

Your interpretation of the graph shows a huge non-understanding of the data.

Llewdor
Guest
Llewdor
5 years 7 months ago

I couldn’t agree more. That chart is the worst kind of data manipulation to drive a pre-determined narrative. Or, at least, I hope that’s what was happening, because thinking that chart actually tells us anything about the current or future value of those players is the height of folly.

CarlosM7
Member
CarlosM7
5 years 7 months ago

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