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Why catcher John Buck ‘was paying attention’ to Victor Martinez, Red Sox this winter

03.13.11 at 12:39 am ET

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Catcher John Buck had his antennae up when he arrived at the offseason.

He was a free agent coming off, by far, the best season of his career. Playing in the AL East with the Blue Jays in 2010, he had set career highs in average (.281), OBP (.314), slugging (.489), OPS (.802). homers (20) and runs batted in (66). The performance was certain to make him one of the most sought after catchers in a relatively thin free agent market that was headlined by Sox catcher Victor Martinez.

Naturally, Buck was curious, even hopeful, that the Red Sox would come after him if they did not re-up with Martinez.

“I was paying attention to Victor. For sure,” said Buck. “Who doesn’€™t want to play for the Red Sox? Being a kind of historian of baseball, regardless of all the money and all that other stuff, it would just be a cool place to play. That was definitely something I thought about.”

That said, while the Sox kicked the tires on Buck, negotiations with him never reached the point of being serious. Boston was still talking with Martinez, and with Jarrod Saltalmacchia on the roster, the Sox believed they had a viable in-house catching option should he depart.

Instead, it was the Marlins who made an aggressive play for the 30-year-old, giving him a three-year, $18 million deal in early November before any substantive negotiations between the Sox and Buck occurred.

“I know there was interest there [from the Sox]. But it never really got to the point where I had to say I got this on the table or this,” said Buck. “Any good team is going to have its hands in everything. I don’€™t think it ever got to the point where they were ever exchanging anything.”

Instead, Buck was happy to move quickly when the Marlins made their offer. He was drawn not just to the terms of the deal but also to what he saw as a Marlins team that has positioned itself to contend. Anchored by Josh Johnson — a pitcher whom Buck said reminds him of former Royals batterymate Zack Greinke — he viewed the young and talented Marlins rotation as offering a foundation that could allow him to compete.

“You’€™re getting to the point where you’€™re looking for that ring,” said Buck. “One of the reasons I signed here was because of the strength of the starting staff. [The Marlins] have an overall direction of where they want to go, what they want to do in the future with the new stadium.”

Read More: florida marlins, jarrod saltalamacchia, john buck, victor martinez
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