AJ Pierzynski: Should The Chicago White Sox Extend Their Veteran Catcher?
AJ Pierzynski has been a member of the Chicago White Sox since everyone’s favorite year in 2005. His grinder persona makes him an easy fan favorite for most – including myself – even though I never really thought he was that great of a player to begin with. After all, he was a shaky defensive catcher – pitch calling ability aside – who swung at pretty much everything, hurting his offensive game in the process.
Prior to this season, Pierzynski’s best season with the White Sox was in 2006 when he had the slash-line of .295/.333/.436/.769. A decent season, sure, but not the type of career season you would expect from someone who has been around as long as AJ has. This year, however, Pierzynski appears to motivated to earn one more payday before he calls it a career.
Pierzynski signed a two-year, $8 million extension with the White Sox in 2010, figuring that this would have been the last contract he would sign with the Chicago White Sox. He was coming off a season where he had an OPS under .700 and a 1.2 fWAR, so one would think this would be the last payday for the veteran catcher. But with the numbers he is putting up this season, Pierzynski can expect one more payday, and the Chicago White Sox need to give it to him.
No one really knows why Pierzynski is having the season he is having. He has already surpassed his career-high in homers in a season by five and it’s only the middle of August. His .255 ISO (SLG-BA) is over .100 points higher than his career average, so needless to say this season has been a bit of a fluke. Luckily for AJ, this fluke is going to make Jerry Reinsdorf open his checkbook.
The White Sox don’t have a viable long-term option at catcher right now, so buying more time by extending Pierzynski seems to be the obvious play. I would expect a bit of a raise from his previous deal he signed with Chicago in 2010, something along the lines of two-years and between the $14-$18 million range seems to make a lot of sense for both sides.
Pierzynski’s career season really is a double-edged sword for Kenny Williams. On one hand, you can bring back a catcher coming off a career year that has also has been apart of the organization for eight seasons, or you can realize Pierzynski’s 21.8 HR/FB ratio has more than doubled from his career rate, concluding this type of season will never happen again.
Either way, Williams probably loses with whatever decision he makes. But I would much rather overpay for Pierzynski and hope to catch lightning in a bottle twice than see Tyler Flowers – whom I like – start 130 games a season.
It’s safe to say AJ Pierzynski picked the right time to have a career season. Now, the ball is in Kenny’s court.
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