A.J. Pierzynski is having a career year at the plate
Well-liked by White Sox fans and teammates and despised by fans and opposing players outside of the South Side, the 35-year-old A.J. Pierzynski is having a career year at the plate.
The backstop who has caught more games in a White Sox uniform than all but Ray Schalk, Sherm Lollar and Carlton Fisk has a career-high 26 home runs and with 73 RBI needs just five more to eclipse his previous single-season best in that category. Still, that might not be enough to keep Pierzynski in a White Sox uniform beyond 2012.
A free agent at season’s end, Pierzynski will be a free agent. Since Mike Napoli is considered more of a combo catcher, first baseman and DH; and the Atlanta Braves are likely to exercise their $12 million team option on Brian McCann, the left-handed hitting Pierzynski will likely be the most attractive catcher on the market, so he could get a multi-year offer that the White Sox are not willing to match.
White Sox general manager Kenny Williams has already said the team will not pick up the $13 million option on corner infielder Kevin Youkilis. He has decisions to make on right-handers Gavin Floyd ($9.5 million team option) and Jake Peavy ($22 million team option). Considering that pitching will be a priority – and the team will need to find a replacement for Youkilis at third base if he is not brought back – Pierzynski could have no choice but to find a new destination in 2013.
The White Sox already have 26-year-old backup catcher Tyler Flowers, who the team acquired from Atlanta in the December 2008 trade that sent Javier Vazquez to the Braves. Barry Rozner of the Daily Herald pointed out last month that “There’s never been any question about Flowers’ defense, and many pitchers on the staff actually prefer throwing to Flowers over Pierzynski because he calls such a good game.”
Rozner also added that Flowers has not shown the ability nor been given the chance to see if he can effectively hit Major League pitching for a prolonged stretch because he has played behind Pierzynski, who is one of the most durable catchers in baseball.
Over parts of four Major League seasons, Flowers has a .215 average with 12 home runs and 29 RBI in 261 at-bats. He is hitting .234 with seven home runs and 13 RBI in 124 at-bats this year.