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Red Sox to sign catcher A.J. Pierzynski

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  December 3, 2013 08:35 AM

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The Red Sox have agreed to terms with veteran catcher A.J. Pierzynski. The one-year deal is worth $8.25 million.

Pierzynski will be playing for his third team in as many years. After spending 2005-2012 with the White Sox, he joined the Texas Rangers last season and hit .272 with a .722 OPS. He had 17 homers and 70 RBIs. Pierzynski started 111 games behind the plate.

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported the deal was in place. On Monday night, the Globe reported that the Red Sox were moving on from Jarrod Saltalamacchia, their primary catcher last season. Saltalamacchia was seeking a three-year contract.

The lefthanded-hitting Pierzynski should make for a good match with righthanded hitter David Ross, whom the Red Sox view as being able to play more than the average backup.

But Pierzynski is far from a perfect solution. He had a .297 OBP last season thanks to drawing only 11 walks over 529 plate appearances and saw an average of only 3.27 pitches per plate appearance, the lowest in the majors.

Pierzynski turns 37 in December and Ross turns 37 in March. By going with a tandem of older catchers, the Red Sox will not block prospects Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart.

Vazquez, 23, finished last season with Triple A Pawtucket. The strong-armed catcher hit .289/.376/.395 for Double A Portland last season. Swihart, 21, was a first-round pick in 2011 and is expected to open the 2014 season in Portland after hitting .298/.366/.428 for High A Salem.

Pierzynski has a league-wide reputation for having a difficult personality, something Red Sox executives said in recent weeks was overstated. Pierzynski also will be entering a clubhouse with leaders in place and playing for a strong manager in John Farrell. Any personality issues figure to be extinguished quickly.

Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves worked closely with Pierzynski when both were with the White Sox. Pierzynski also came up with the Twins organization with David Ortiz. The two were teammates in Minnesota from 1998-2002.

Pierzynski is a two-time All-Star and has 30 games of playoff experience. He helped lead the White Sox to a World Series title in 2005. Pierzynski is a lifetime .322/.328/.424 hitter at Fenway Park, but does not have a home run.

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