, Newburyport, MA


December 4, 2013

The Pierzynski deal keeps plan in motion

No matter what you’ve heard about A.J. Pierzynski’s personality or whether he’s as good a hitting catcher as Jarrod Saltalamacchia, the Red Sox decision to sign him makes perfect sense.

The one-year deal the Red Sox gave to the catcher yesterday provides a needed one-year bridge to the future at a position where the Boston Red Sox have more depth than they have had in a couple decades.

The Red Sox don’t need Johnny Bench behind the plate in 2014.

They needed the best catcher possible at the least number of years possible who can hold down the fort while 23-year-old defensive whiz Christian Vazquez (expected to start year in Triple-A Pawtucket) and 21-year-old first-round pick Blake Swihart (expected to start ‘14 in Double-A Portland), continue to develop. Both are nearing the majors.

Pierzynski is aging. He’ll be 37 on Dec. 30 and he posted just a .297 on-base percentage with the Texas Rangers in 2013, the first time he had ever had an OBP below .300 in his 16 big league seasons.

But considering the depth the Red Sox have in the minors (they also have talented 19-year-old Jon Denney and a strong defender in 27-year-old Dan Butler), it was wise for the Red Sox to stay the course, which meant staying away from free agent backstops Brian McCann and Jarrod Saltalamacchia who would demand three or more years.

McCann signed for five years with the Yankees. Saltalamacchia reportedly agreed to a three-year deal worth $21 million with the Miami Marlins yesterday after Boston signed Pierzynski.

“His resume speaks for itself,” Red Sox backup catcher David Ross said about Pierzynski yesterday on Sirius XM Sports MLB Network Radio. “He’s won a championship. The guy’s a really good hitter. So I think he should fit in well in our lineup, a left-handed bat. He’s been around for a long time. So I don’t think you can go wrong with signing a guy like that.”

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