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Report: Red Sox agree to one-year deal with A.J. Pierzynski

Dec 3, 2013, 8:23 AM EDT

a.j. pierzynski getty Getty Images

UPDATE: ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that Pierzynski’s one-year deal is worth $8.25 million.

8:57 a.m. ET: Sean McAdam of reports that Pierzysnki will get a one-year deal. He’ll essentially function as a stopgap option with the Red Sox, as prospects Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart aren’t too far away from the big leagues.

8:23 a.m. ET: According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Red Sox have agreed to a deal with free agent catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Terms aren’t yet known.

We heard last night that the Red Sox were “unlikely” to keep Jarrod Saltalamacchia, which was a strong hint that they were moving in another direction at the catcher position. Pierzynski was the best alternative available in the free agent market. And while we don’t know the specifics of the contract yet, the Red Sox probably won’t have to commit as many years to him as they would with the younger Saltalamacchia, who now appears likely to land with the Twins or Marlins.

Pierzynski, who turns 37 later this month, batted .272/.297/.425 with 17 home runs and 70 RBI over 134 games this past season with the Rangers. He’ll share catching duties with David Ross in Boston.

  1. deadeyedesign23 - Dec 3, 2013 at 8:35 AM

    Very apt wording on the headline for a personality like Pierzynski’s.

    • tc4306 - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:00 AM

      By all reports, Pierzynski is a strong and loyal teammate. He may be a pain in the ass to opponents, but he has been very well liked by his teammates.

      • deadeyedesign23 - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:31 AM

        Yeah, but that’s not as funny.

      • stex52 - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:59 AM

        By some reports. Others have made pretty clear he can be a surly teammate at best.

      • yahmule - Dec 3, 2013 at 10:23 AM

        Ask the Giants. The couldn’t wait to see him go.

  2. hansob - Dec 3, 2013 at 8:50 AM

    9 unintentional walks last year in 500+ PA’s.

    • stex52 - Dec 3, 2013 at 8:54 AM

      Yeah, you’re not getting any walks with AJ. It’s hit or out.

      • Old Gator - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:21 AM

        Ah, but you’re getting….veteran presence.

    • pastabelly - Dec 3, 2013 at 10:19 AM

      He won’t be getting 500 plate appearances. I’d love to see Ross get 81 games. AJP is going to have to learn to take some pitches. The Red Sox game plan is to wear opposing starting pitchers out through being selective. Maybe the old dog can learn a new trick. If not, Ross will handle a bigger load.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Dec 3, 2013 at 10:28 AM

        Victorino will teach him how to take a pitch. The butt if the best place to take it, but really anywhere will help you move up 90 feet

  3. stex52 - Dec 3, 2013 at 8:53 AM

    The Red Sox never seem to shy away from dealing with difficult personalities, so this seems par for the course. He slipped a bit on OBP and power last year, and he is 37, so this could be something of a risk. Although he still seems to be about league-average on defense.

    Looking at the comparative stats, this must be a move to save money or years. In spite of his awful post-season Salty still looks the better player for the future. But maybe they think last year was not representative.

    • paperlions - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:05 AM

      It is a downgrade for 2014, but they have two good catching prospects coming up….they likely didn’t want to do anything that would block them. Of course, that seems like an odd strategy since catching is so scarce and the Red Sox have ample resources….if at any point one of the prospects became ready, they could have easily dealt a decent catcher and go more than salary relief in return.

      It will be interesting to see what the Red Sox lineup looks like next year if 1/2 the starting lineup (Drew, Salty, Napoli, Ellsbury) don’t return. Bradly and Bogaerts are great prospects, it’ll be fun to see if they immediately step up.

      • Kevin S. - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:57 AM

        If they just wanted a one-year stopgap, why not offer Salty a QO?

      • paperlions - Dec 3, 2013 at 1:06 PM

        Yeah, I thought that was really weird. Maybe they were uncomfortable offering so many guys QOs….but probably, they just mis-read the market or the likelihood that a guy would accept the QO.

        It looks like a long-shot that either of their prospects will be ready to hit MLB pitching and be a serviceable defender in 2015.

      • 18thstreet - Dec 3, 2013 at 10:04 AM

        Given that Ross and AJ will be gone after 2014, they’ll need to go shopping again after next season. There’s no way they’re letting two young catchers take over in 2015.

        Maybe Salty is too expensive. But I would have strongly preferred to see the Sox give him a qualifying offer. Seems like they messed this one up.

      • Kevin S. - Dec 3, 2013 at 10:39 AM

        The Sox aren’t anywhere near the tax line, which I’m assuming is the lowest level they might have for an upper bound on payroll. Given that, I’d much rather have Salty for 1/$14.1 than AJ for 1/$8.25, and if Salty wouldn’t take the QO, at least I’d get AJ + a comp pick. Can’t understand why they went this route at catcher. Yes, I know about the BABIP spike that probably won’t repeat itself. Still rather go in on that guy than a 37 y.o. coming off a sub-.300 OBP season.

      • uyf1950 - Dec 3, 2013 at 2:08 PM

        @ Kevin S, actually depending what happens with Ellsbury, Napoli and Drew the Red Sox are a lot closer to the 2014 Luxury Tax threshold then you might think when you and in the balance of the 40 man roster and benefits and incentives MLB charges all MLB teams.

        By my best calculation not including any monies for Ellsbury, Napoli and Drew but including about $11MM to round out the 40 man roster (players 26 through 40) and the benefits and incentives I mentioned the Red Sox 2014 payroll comes to about $150MM.

        If you add just Napoli and Drew to that $150MM that’s possibly another $25MM +/- = $175MM that’s only $14MM from the tax threshold and that does not include re-signing Ellsbury which of course they could always go with Bradley or some other less expensive option than Ellsbury. They could also go with Bogarts instead of Drew if they wanted to save some money. They do have some unproven options if they wanted to go that route but I think they have to re-sign at least 1 of the 3 players I mentioned. That’s just my opinion.

      • Kevin S. - Dec 3, 2013 at 5:16 PM

        Hmm, I guess I just feel that Drew is gone and Ellsbury is likely right behind him.

      • paperlions - Dec 3, 2013 at 5:19 PM

        Yeah, there is no way any of these guys were going to accept a QO…and the RS have good prospects for SS and CF that are ready for their shot. There is approximately a 0% chance the RS try to retain Ellsbury. The only way I see them signing Drew is if he winds up needing a 1-year bargain basement deal…which seems highly unlikely. Heck, at this point, it even seems highly possibly that Napoli will be gone too.

    • historiophiliac - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:32 AM

      I’m curious to see how his beard will work out.

    • kopy - Dec 3, 2013 at 10:08 AM

      The Red Sox never seem to shy away from dealing with difficult personalities, so this seems par for the course.

      Well obviously, they invite 37,000 of them to every home game!

  4. proudlycanadian - Dec 3, 2013 at 8:56 AM

    I love this signing. 37 year old catchers are a new market inefficiency.

    • proudlycanadian - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:40 AM

      He is only one year older than David Ross and one year younger than Jose Molina. Molina got a 2 year contract. Navarro got a 2 year contract. This guy was willing to sign for only one year. Was he that desperate for a job?

      If my memory is correct, Ross has another 2 years on his contract and thus has more job security.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:50 AM

        But those guys you mention are all backups.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:53 AM

        The team was somewhat lacking in the Horse’s Arze dept last year. This should go a long way toward rectifying that. That battery of Lackey/Pierzynski should inspire warm fuzzies in unwashed beards across bloodysock nation.

      • bobwsc - Dec 3, 2013 at 12:03 PM

        one year.

  5. m3dman3 - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:02 AM

    Clearly Salty was the better option.

    • pdowdy83 - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:27 AM

      Clearly you cannot say that without knowing the terms of this deal and the terms of whatever contract Salty signs. If This contract is 1 year at $8-10mm and Salty signs a 4 year deal in the $40mm range coming of a career year with a massive BABIP spike I would say that the Red Sox made a smart move by going short term on Pierzynski and not falling in love with (and massively overpaying) the guys on their championship team like the Giants seem to have done recently.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:42 AM

        If Pierzynski signs a $10M deal, with Hughes signing an $8M per and Lincecum getting $17.5M per, I don’t want to hear any more bitching about what Cano should/shouldn’t get paid on a AAV basis.

      • 18thstreet - Dec 3, 2013 at 10:08 AM

        Salty’s big BABIP, though, was partly because a lot of hits that were previously homers ended up as doubles. (His homer total dropped by 9 or 10, I think).

        I liked the guy. I won’t miss his disgusting haircut, though. Along with Buchholz, he was part of the ugliest battery in baseball history.

      • uyf1950 - Dec 3, 2013 at 1:37 PM

        @ church, I certainly have no intention of speaking for all fans or even the majority of them. As for this Yankees fan I can tell you I really don’t have an issue with what Cano may or may not make on an AAV in a new contract. But I find absurd, yes absurd is his insistence on at least a 9 year guarantee. And according to the latest reports a 10th year vesting option. To put it bluntly that’s insane. I realize that to some degree some of this is part of the negotiating process and posturing but their comes a point when the demands are so out of whack as to turn people off. I think that’s the position Cano has gotten himself into.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Dec 3, 2013 at 7:07 PM


        I agree the 9/10 year requests are absurd, but that’s not what I’m seeing a lot of people talking about. There are many comments about how he’s not worth $20M a year, let alone $25M or $30M. People saying the Yanks should offer like 6/$120 and say final offer, and that’s just absurd.

        Guys from RAB are floating 7/$189M ($27M AAV), which I think would be perfect if the Yanks could pull it off.

  6. peterjohnjoseph - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:04 AM

    Its being reported its only a 1 year deal. I think its an ok move, since it will give the Sox time to figure out the long term situation with some prospects while two tested catcher are holding the fort. I have a feeling the Sox will play a few different prospects more than usual over the year to give them some big league experience to break them in, instead of being thrown to the wolves.

  7. keltictim - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:26 AM

    He’s platooning with Ross for a year until the 2 prospects are ready. That’s all they needed a serviceable stopgap platoon player for one year for short money. Mission accomplished.

    • 18thstreet - Dec 3, 2013 at 10:20 AM

      I think it’s a BIG risk to assume that both prospects are going to be quality major league players. Teams never get that lucky with their development plans.

      • bigharold - Dec 3, 2013 at 12:01 PM

        “I think it’s a BIG risk to assume that both prospects are going to be quality major league players.”

        Absolutely true but even if neither work out they can either bring AJP back or get another FA stop gap. I think it was less about assuming that their catching prospects would be ready by 2015 than they just weren’t going to commit to Saltalamacchia.

        Whether this strategy is successful obviously depends on the development of the young prospects but in an of itself it’s not a bad strategy.

      • paperlions - Dec 3, 2013 at 1:18 PM

        Not only that….but based on 2013, I’m not sure either one will be ready for 2015.

        Swihart hit okay, but not as well as they hype would have predicted and he spent all year in A+ ball. Apparently his D is coming along, but no one seems to be suggesting that it is ahead of the bat.

        Vazquez is a lot closer, having spent 2013 in AA, he hit okay, but with little power….apparently he is a glove-first guy…and he is built a lot like a Molina, which is nice.

  8. sidelineshot - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:35 AM

    As the unexpected World Series Champs, the Sox now have the option to be careful and adopt a Patriots’ approach. To make sure that they remain in the hunt long term.

  9. rbj1 - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:37 AM

    Good. I can focus all my hate in one direction next year.

  10. hcf95688 - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:42 AM

    Just when I thought the Red Sox couldn’t be more unlikable…

  11. scottychicago - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:43 AM

    As a White Sox fan, AJ always was a popular and loyal teammate and fan favorite. He might annoy other teams and their fans but I do not think he is the jerk he is portrayed as.

    • yahmule - Dec 3, 2013 at 10:22 AM

      And by “always” you mean “not in San Francisco” where he was hated.

  12. pastabelly - Dec 3, 2013 at 10:24 AM

    I thought he was acting kind of giddy on the FOX set after the Sox beat the Cardinals in the WS. I wonder if he thought Boston was his next destination.

  13. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Dec 3, 2013 at 10:30 AM

    I can’t wait to see McCann vs. Pierzynski added to the Yankees/Sox rivalry.

  14. pastabelly - Dec 3, 2013 at 10:30 AM

    I hope Salty gets his payday somewhere. He deserves it. He came up through the Atlanta system as a top prospect and didn’t meet expectations after being dealt to Texas. His WAR was close to 3 in 2013. Doubtful the Sox will replace that with AJP/Ross and this was a move for the future for the Sox.

  15. uyf1950 - Dec 3, 2013 at 10:50 AM

    MLBTR is reporting that the 1 year is for $8.25MM guaranteed. It sounds like from that report that there might be some incentives that have yet to be announced.

    Maybe I’m wrong but as best I can tell it seems like Pierzynski is just a much older version of the catcher the Sox let walk away Saltalamacchia.

    • Kevin S. - Dec 3, 2013 at 10:57 AM

      Older and not nearly as good.

  16. crnvic847 - Dec 3, 2013 at 12:21 PM

    Hopefully him and Peavy can put their differences behind them.

    • pastabelly - Dec 3, 2013 at 2:37 PM

      According to both of them, that was blown way out of proportion.

  17. uyf1950 - Dec 3, 2013 at 1:26 PM

    It’s going to be interesting to see how the Red Sox handle their catching situation for 2015 with both Pierzynski and Ross both becoming free agents. I realize the piece talks about a couple of “prospects” in the Sox system that could be ready relatively soon but as we all know there is a reason they are called “prospects”. Inquiring minds want to know.

    • drewzducks - Dec 3, 2013 at 5:04 PM

      They could bring back one or both on one year deals to bide more time depending on the prospect’s development curve this year. I’m guessing the Sox hope that they don’t end up being Lavarnway 2.0, though Vazquez is MLB ready defensively. These short term commitments, having a roster entirely free of “anchor baby” contracts and a steady flow of impactful young talent sprinkled throughout the parent club and minors put a team, coming off of an unexpected championship, in an unequaled position of strength.

  18. jrobitaille23 - Dec 3, 2013 at 3:30 PM

    People here are so funny. You all do realize AJ outhit Salti the last two years. He’s also better at handling a staff by all accounts. Not a great arm for sure. But let’s be real…this is actually an upgrade not a downgrade. Salti will never be the great player people thought he’d be. Once again, another shrewd move for the future defending champs

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Dec 3, 2013 at 7:12 PM

      You all do realize AJ outhit Salti the last two years.

      Salti – .334/107
      AJ – .332/104

      AJ is probably the better play caller, but he’s not a better hitter nor has he been either.

      • jrobitaille23 - Dec 4, 2013 at 8:42 PM

        lol nice try. compare their numbers BA, HR, RBI, SLG, OPS and he is every bit if not better. But I guess those numbers help your case

  19. voidhelix - Dec 3, 2013 at 4:35 PM

    Navarro $8M for 2 at 29 years of age, AJP $8M for 1 at 37. I think Boston just got the WS winners `discount`…

  20. sawxalicious - Dec 3, 2013 at 11:19 PM

    I like this deal. One year. Very little risk, and you know what you’re getting. Quality receiver, above average bat (for the position). AHP is a hrs-nosed gamer, he’ll fit in just fine.

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