The Red Sox made their first free agent signing of the 2013 offseason on Tuesday morning, inking catcher AJ Pierzynski to a 1 year, $8 million deal. For Boston, signing Pierzynski meant that they were no longer sutiors for last season's back stop Jarrod Saltalamacchia and wanted a one year bridge to their top catching prospects.
But while Pierzynski does appear to be a stop gap, Red Sox fans should not expect a slouch on the field. Although Pierzynski started his solid career in Minnesota, he gained most of his recognition as a member of the Chicago White Sox, where he played 8 season and batted .279/.318/.424. Last year, AJ signed a one year pact with the Texas Rangers and wound up playing in 134 games and collecting 17 home runs and 70 RBI's.
As per usual for Pierzynski, he won't be a high on base threat as evident by his .322 career OBP. However, he does bring run producing ability to the table, as he's average 62 RBI's and 15 home runs over his past 4 season. Perhaps most impressively, however, has been Pierzynski's ability to stay healthy at a physically demanding postion. In the 16 year veteran's last two season, he's played in over 130 games and caught in 254 of them. As a result, Pierzynski amassed over 1005.0 innings at catcher for 2 consecutive years. While manning the plate, Pierzynski won't win any gold gloves but he did boast a 33% CS% last season which graded well above the league average 26%.
Throughout the course of the soon-to-be 37 year old's career, he's made a habit of wearing his emotions on his sleeve. Subsequently, some see the backstop's attitude as a problem and wonder what kind of effect it has in the clubhouse. But, at the same time, teammates of Pierzynski's have gone on record praising him as a teammate. For the Red Sox, Pierzynski will enter a clubhouse full of veterans; from David Ortiz to Ryan Dempster. Not to mention John Farrell will be at the helm. Therefore any policing, if need be, will be done by guys who have seen it all before.
To put it bluntly, this is a really smart signing by the Red Sox. Not only does the one year, $8MM deal offer no risk, but it also saves Boston money that they can allocate elsewhere. Perhaps more importantly though, Boston has now shown their faith in Christian Vasquez and Blake Swihart as future pieces on the Red Sox roster.