Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweets that the Marlins will sign free agent catcher John Buck to a three-year, $18 million contract. The deal is the most lucrative free agent signing that the Marlins have agreed to since they signed Carlos Delgado in 2005.
The normally penny-pinching Marlins came under harsh criticism by MLB last offseason when the MLBPA and MLB jointly announced that the Marlins were among the clubs the Union was most concerned had not used their revenue sharing funds as proscribed in the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
The criticisms leveled at Florida only increased this summer when confidential financial information was leaked to Deadspin. Our own Maury Brown obtained a copy of those records and analyzed them to show that the club had a net income of almost $30 million in 2008. That net income figure shrank considerably in 2009, but it proved rather shocking to observers who had seen the Marlins eschew expensive acquisitions year after year claiming relative poverty.
Buck's signing may indicate the club's willingness to spend money to put the team over the top. It may also be aimed at providing a counterpoint to the critics who claimed the club was gaming the system for the last several years. Regardless, the Marlins have a new catcher with a good defensive reputation and a reasonable bat, who enjoyed a break-out season in 2010.
Across the board he met or exceeded his career best numbers. His batting line of .281/.314/.489/.802 had personal highs in each measure. His walk rate (16 walks in 437 plate appearances) was the only measure in which he showed some decline. And that may have had more to do with the organizational philosophy of the 2010 Bashing Blue Jays than with Buck's ability.
Joe Tetreault is Managing Editor of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He can be contacted here through The Biz of Baseball
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