Recently on the Chicago sports radio station that I listen to, I have heard a lot of talk about what the Chicago White Sox should in the next six weeks or so leading up to the MLB trade deadline. One name that is sure to be a hot topic is catcher AJ Pierzynski. Pierzynski is exactly the type of player that any contending team with a need at catcher would love to have. AJ is the classic “love him if he is on your team, hate if he is not” type of guy. He will always be loved by White Sox fans as a guy who has been a cornerstone on the Chicago White Sox organization since 2005, when he helped lead the White Sox to their first World Series title since 1917.
AJ Pierzynski has been nothing short of spectacular this season, both offensively and defensively. He is hitting .301/.340/.500 for an OPS of .840 with 6 doubles, 1 triple, 7 home runs and 29 RBI in 156 at bats. He has only walked 9 times and struck out 15 times this season.
Defensively, Pierzynski has always been a good backstop, but was terrible at throwing runners out, but this season has been quite the opposite as he has thrown out base stealers at a 35% rate. Up from a career average of 24%. He says the reason is that manager Robin Ventura and his coaching staff made it a priority this year that AJ and fellow catchers work everyday on getting rid of the ball quickly, whereas former manager and Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen never made them work on it.
So the question is will the White Sox look to trade the veteran backstop to pick up some young players? AJ is in the last year of his 2 year $8 million deal he signed before the 2011 season. Everyone knows that Chicago White Sox chairman/owner Jerry Reinsdorf is very loyal to guys that he loves. I personally think that Reinsdorf will want to extend AJ for another season or two and AJ has said that he wants to retire with the White Sox. The other possibility is that the Sox talk to Pierzynski and tell him that they are going to trade him to a contender so he can go for another title and then they will make an offer for him in the offseason to return.
Here are some teams that would be interested in a catcher of AJ Pierzynski’s caliber.
Washington Nationals– The Nats lost starting catcher Wilson Ramos to a season ending injury. They need offense in a bad way and a veteran like Pierzynski could be just what the Nats need to make that push to win the NL East.
Tampa Bay Rays– The Rays have needed a catcher for a while now and have been known to be interested in AJ. Have plenty of young talent that would interest the ChiSox.
In the end, I believe that the White Sox will try to sign AJ to an extension. Something along the lines of a 2yr/$10 million.