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Sources: Red Sox agree to one-year deal with A.J. Pierzynski

12.03.13 at 8:11 am ET
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According to multiple industry sources, the Red Sox have agreed to a one-year deal with free agent catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Buster Olney of ESPN.com reported that Pierzynski, if he passes the physical, will be paid $8.25 million.

The catcher, who turns 37 this month, hit .272 with a .297 OBP and .425 slugging mark along with 17 homers in 134 games for the Rangers in 2013, continuing a track record of remarkable durability — he’s played 120 or more games in 12 straight seasons. He has a career line of .283/.322/.428. Pierzynski would offer the Red Sox a left-handed complement to David Ross while signalling the almost certain end of Jarrod Saltalamacchia‘s tenure with the Red Sox.

While it’s not yet known whether Pierzynski’s deal is for one or two seasons, the Red Sox had wanted to limit the term of any deal with catchers to two seasons, in part to keep the door open for the emergence of their homegrown catching prospects. Saltalamacchia, a 28-year-old coming off a career-best season, has been seeking at least three years this offseason. That duration was problematic for the Sox, given the presence in their system of Christian Vazquez — considered one of the best defensive catching prospects in the minors, who will open the 2014 season in Triple-A — and Blake Swihart, who has the potential to be an above-average offensive and defensive everyday catchter and will open the year in Double-A.

In his career, Pierzynski has offered solid offense against right-handed pitching, hitting .290 with a .331 OBP and .442 slugging mark (compared to a .261/.291/.384 line against lefties), but he hit .269/.286/.438 against righties last year. Still, if he can bounce back towards his career norms, then he could be an important lineup member for a team that has three prominent free agents who hit left-handed (Jacoby Ellsbury, Stephen Drew, Saltalamacchia).

“His resume speaks for itself. He’s won a championship. The guy is a really good hitter. I think he should fit in well in our lineup, a left-handed bat,” Sox catcher Ross said on SiriusXM MLB Network Radio. “He’s been around for a long time. I don’t think you can go wrong with a guy like that.”

Pierzynski, of course, comes with a polarizing reputation, having been named in 2012 as the most hated player in baseball in a Men’s Journal survery of big leaguers, and it’s become a label with which he’s learned to live.

More to come.

Read More: A.J. Pierzynski, blake swihart, christian vazquez, jarrod saltalamacchia
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