A.J. Pierzynski Deal… Why?

**Note** This blog was originally posted on December 3, 2013.  Due to site upgrades, we had to repost this on December 23.

In a vacuum, the Red Sox’s decision to sign A.J. Pierzynski to a 1 year, $8.25 million deal doesn’t seem like a problem.  In fact, when you throw in some of the circumstances, it doesn’t look so bad, either.  The Sox have two young promising catchers in the minors, Blake Swihart and Christian Vazquez, and they wanted a catcher for only a year as a bridge option.

That’s great, but let’s rewind the clock only about a month.  The Red Sox offered Stephen Drew, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Mike Napoli qualifying offers of 1 year, $14.1 mil each.  The one guy that they didn’t offer a deal? Jarrod Saltalamacchia.  I have no problem with the Red Sox not wanting to pay Saltalamacchia multiple years (2 may have been ok, but beyond that would be really questionable) with two hopeful future studs waiting, but that doesn’t explain why Pierzynski for 1 year is better than Salty for 1.

If Pierzynski is worth $8.25 mil, is Salty worth $14.1? Yes, and I don’t think it’s that close.  I’m never a fan of paying for a career year or a contact year or both, and Salty may have just had both.  But he’s still a 28 year old catcher who just put up 2.9 WAR, according to Baseball Reference, and Pierzynski is soon to be 37 years old and just put up a staggering 1.6 WAR.  Salty walked 9.1% of the time last year, and Pierzynski walked 2.1% of the time (not a misprint).  I’m pretty sure that, if I had 100 plate appearances against Major League pitching, I’d have a chance of walking twice. Also, for however much intangibles are worth, Salty also was the every day catcher for a huge bounceback season for the Red Sox pitching staff, and he seemed to be liked in the clubhouse.  Pierzynski once almost fought with Jake Peavy, who will now be his teammate again.

I don’t mind having A.J. Pierzynski on the team, and I love the fact that it’s a 1 year deal.  The Red Sox two young catchers, Blake Swihart and Christian Vazquez, who will hopefully be in the bigs by 2015, don’t hurt either.  But this makes the Red Sox’s decision to not offer Salty a QO incredibly confusing.  He probably wouldn’t have taken it, but they would’ve gotten compensation, and they would have a much better catcher in his prime for only $5.85 million more. The Red Sox don’t seem to be up against the luxury tax, either, with the 2012 salary dump to the Dodgers coming in handy, so I really cant see the reason that the Sox replaced Salty’s 1 year offer with Pierzynski’s.

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