Pierzynski signs one-year deal with Red Sox
Veteran catcher expected to bridge gap to pair of top prospects
BOSTON -- With their first significant acquisition of the offseason, the Red Sox have found the short-term solution behind the plate they were looking for in A.J. Pierzynski, a veteran who owns a World Series ring.
Pierzynski signed a one-year deal with Boston on Wednesday.
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com was the first to report the agreement, which signifies the end of Jarrod Saltalamacchia's time with the Red Sox. After serving as Boston's primary catcher the past three seasons, Saltalamacchia will be moving elsewhere, as he agreed Tuesday to a three-year, $21 million contract with the Marlins, according to an industry source.
The Red Sox have two catchers they really like in their farm system in Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart. That was probably a big reason they went with a one-year deal for Pierzynski, who turns 37 later this month, rather than retaining Saltalamacchia for the multiyear pact he was looking for.
It could be a good situation for Pierzynski, considering Boston has a solid No. 2 catcher in David Ross, who is capable of playing more than the average backup catcher. In fact, the Red Sox thought so highly of Ross that he caught four of the six World Series games. Boston won all four of those games.
Given that Pierzynski is a left-handed hitter and Ross is a righty, they could form a traditional platoon, if that's how manager John Farrell chooses to play it.
"His resume speaks for itself. He's won a championship. The guy is a really good hitter. I think he should fit in well in our lineup, a left-handed bat," Ross said on SiriusXM MLB Network Radio. "He's been around for a long time. I don't think you can go wrong with a guy like that."
Pierzynski is known for being a strong game-caller, though his fielding skills aren't what they once were.
Pierzynski is coming off a solid season for the Rangers, in which he hit .272 with 17 home runs and 70 RBIs in 134 games. He caught in 119 games, starting 111 of them. Pierzynski has a .283 batting average with 172 homers and 800 RBIs in his career, which began with the Twins in 1998 and included eight seasons with the White Sox. The catcher signed with the Rangers last offseason.
While the Red Sox generally prefer their hitters to have a patient approach, Pierzynzki is known for being aggressive. Last year, he had just 11 walks en route to a career-low on-base percentage of .297.
Pierzynski won a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005. He will now try to win another one with the Red Sox, who will try to become baseball's first repeat champions since the 1998-2000 Yankees.
One thing Pierzynski has been known for is a strong and outspoken personality. As former White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen once said, Pierzynski is the type of player that opponents despise, but teammates appreciate. His hard-nosed style of play should fit in on the Red Sox.
David Ortiz has always spoken fondly of Pierzynski from their time together with the Twins. Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves also has positive history with Pierzynski from their time together in Chicago.
The catching market has been moving quickly. Brian McCann and Carlos Ruiz both signed within the last couple of weeks. McCann agreed to a five-year deal with the Yankees, while Ruiz re-signed for three years with the Phillies.
With that important position taken care of, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington can now focus on his other pressing needs, which include center field and first base.
Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Napoli and Stephen Drew are all free agents. The Red Sox might stay in-house at shortstop with top prospect Xander Bogaerts.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.