Free Agent Target: A.J. Pierzynski


Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

At 37 years old, A.J. Pierzynski remains one of the most dependable catchers in the game. Since 2001 he hasn’t had a season where he missed any significant amount of time due to injury. This is definitely something to consider given the last couple seasons the Jays have had.

The Offense

Last season his slash line was .272/.297/.425. He struck out only 76 times, and has been consistent in his career at avoiding the strikeout. This, however, is in contrast to his low amount of walks. Last season he only walked 11 times.

In 2012, he hit 27 homeruns at Chicago’s US Cellular Field. He knocked out 17 last year in Arlington. Given the lofty atmosphere at Rogers Center, it would be reasonable to expect at least 25 home runs if he signed with the Jays.

The Defense

Concerns about Pierzynski’s defense hurt his chances to sign with the Yankees for the 2013 season. Among those concerns are his ability to throw out the runner. He’s managed to snag a runner at a career rate of 25 percent. By comparison, J.P. Arencibia’s career rate is 26 percent. His pitch-framing is said to be average, and his blocking below-average.

The Rest

Pierzynski is often voted on player polls as the most hated player in the game. But while players on other teams hate him, reactions from former teammates are mixed.

Knowing what Pierzynski is really like in a locker room is impossible to say unless you played on his team. Still, since you rarely hear players calling ex-teammates problematic, hearing negativity from more than one person points to an issue. His former manager, Ozzie Guillen, had choice words about him. Some players have been critical of his behaviour, while others, such as pitcher Chris Sale, have defended him. There is also the infamous story about Pierzynski, who after taking a foul ball to the groin in a spring training game with the Giants, then kneed his trainer in the groin after he was asked how he felt. Pierzynski later said he kneed the trainer only after he repeatedly asked for some space and it wasn’t granted.

There’s definitely an intensity to his play. While some criticized him for getting tossed out of Yu Darvish’s no-hit bid last season for arguing the strike zone, he did so defending his pitcher who lost out on a potential perfect game due to a bad call.

What the Jays Would Expect to Pay

Steve Adams at MLB Trade Rumors expects a one-year deal worth $6.5 million, which sounds about right given that Pierzynski’s one-year deal with Texas was for $7.5 million, and he’s coming off a down season. He’s also ever closer to age 40. Given the demand for solid catching and what little is out there, someone could very well put together a two-year offer—possibly the Twins given recent rumours.

I see the Jays considering other options before Pierzynski—if they decide on him at all—but there’s less and less out there every day.