For weeks, new White Sox general manager Rick Hahn has been cautioning against all of the rampant speculation that free-agent A.J. Pierzynski’s lengthy run on the South Side is over.
While Pierzynski could very well land elsewhere this off-season, Hahn was sending the same message Monday at baseball’s winter meetings in Nashville, Tenn.
“We aren’t there yet and we are still exploring other options, including A.J.,” Hahn told reporters when asked about the Sox’ catching situation. “However, if in fact we wind up with Tyler (Flowers) as the opening day catcher, we think that we will not lose anything defensively and we have a good, young hitter capable of hitting for power and getting on base fairly regularly, at a fairly healthy clip. It’s nice to have that option to fall back on.
“But it doesn’t stop us to continue having dialogue with A.J., given all he’s done for us over the last eight years.”
Pierzynski will be 36 years old on Dec. 30, but he hit a career-high 27 home runs last season while matching his personal best with 77 RBI.
Flowers, 26, played in only 52 games backing up the workhorse Pierzynski last season and he batted .213 with 7 home runs and 13 RBI.
Flowers also struck out 56 times in 136 at-bats, but you have to cut him some slack considering the limited action.
“Tyler is going to get on base, he’s going to hit with some power,” Hahn told reporters. “He’s going to strike out a lot more than A.J., and the batting average is going to probably be lower. But he’s still going to be a pretty solid offensive player and I think better than what you saw in 2012 because it’s tough with sporadic playing time and being a young player.”
When he was a free agent in 2010, Pierzynski almost signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers. But at the last minute, he gave the White Sox a significant discount while agreeing to a two-year, $8 million contract.
Considering catcher Mike Napoli signed with the Boston Red Sox for three years and $39 million Monday and Russell Martin got a two-year, $17 million deal from the Pittsburgh Pirates last week, it’s very safe to assume Pierzynski is going to get a lucrative contract from a team like the Tampa Bay Rays, New York Yankees or Mets, Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers or the Dodgers.
The White Sox are already close to their projected 2013 payroll of $97 million, so Pierzynski would appear to be too pricey this time around.
“Again, we’re not there yet,” Hahn said. “I sort of feel like we’re almost a week or two ahead of this conversation in terms of what Tyler is going to be if he’s the everyday catcher. Let’s see what happens with A.J. first.”Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.