The Boston Red Sox have finally made a move in free agency as they brought in veteran catcher AJ Pierzynski on a one-year deal worth 8.25 million. This deal will ultimately mean that the Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who has caught over 103 games for the past three years with the Red Sox, is gone in Boston.
Saltalamacchia boasted one of his better offensive years statistically this past season, but he cooled down considerably in the playoffs and it’s no doubt that with Napoli still floating, the Red Sox needed another hitter in the lineup.
Pierzynski has a career batting average of .283 and has mixed in a few years where he hit over .300 for the season. Power-wise, he’ll give you about what Saltalamacchia gave you, but on-base wise you’re going to likely get more from Pierzynski as he has a career .322 OBP while Salty is a career .310. The difference isn’t huge, but Pierzynski fits in other ways as well.
Pierzynski, who is now 37, signed a shorter-term deal, which the Red Sox Larry Lucchino told the media was going to continue to be their strategy for this offseason. The Red Sox may have missed out on some potential big names, but they did it doing business the same way that won them a championship and that’s no inflated contracts.
Another plus side to Pierzynski is the fact that this short-term deal means it will give our catching prospects a chance to grow, but not so long that it stifles their development. Ryan Lavarnway and Christian Vazquez will get the opportunity sooner rather than later and that is a good thing. The Red Sox got a serviceable player, for a good deal and will, most likely, be bringing up Lavarnway afterwards.
The last positive thing was the Red Sox were able to add another left-handed batter to the mix offensively at catcher. David Ross is right handed, along with all the other catchers in Boston, and just having that lefty in your arsenal for pinch hitting purposes is important come playoff time.
I know that Pierzynski isn’t what fans want necessarily, but he does fill a void in more than one way for the Red Sox. He’s a low risk contract and if he doesn’t live up to it, fans will likely see Lavarnway this season (unless the Red Sox trade for a catcher). The next big move, to me, is locking up Napoli for a few years.