December 3, 2013

Source: Red Sox near deal for catcher A.J. Pierzynski

Pierzynski hit .272 with 17 homers and 70 RBIs last season with the Texas Rangers.

By Howard Ulman
The Associated Press

BOSTON – Free-agent catcher A.J. Pierzynski has agreed to a one-year contract with the Boston Red Sox, a person with knowledge of the negotiations said Tuesday.

click image to enlarge

Rangers’ A.J. Pierzynski swings at a pitch in the first inning against the Oakland A's, in Arlington, Texas, on Sept. 13. A person with knowledge of the negotiations says free-agent catcher Pierzynski is closing in on a one-year contract with the Boston Red Sox.

AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File

The deal would be pending a physical. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team hadn’t finalized the agreement.

The lefty-hitting Pierzynski and righty David Ross, the backup, both will be 37 next season. With catching prospects Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart making their way up the system, the Red Sox were reluctant to give a multiyear deal to free agent Jarrod Saltalamacchia, their starter the past three seasons.

Pierzynski hit .272 with 17 homers and 70 RBIs last season, his only one with the Texas Rangers. He walked just 11 times and doesn’t fit the Red Sox preference for patient hitters who work the count. In 2012, he had 27 homers and 28 walks, both career highs.

He spent the previous eight years with the Chicago White Sox, playing in at least 128 games each season, and appeared in all four games when they swept Houston in the 2005 World Series. A two-time All-Star, Pierzynski has a .283 career average with 172 homers and 800 RBIs.

Saltalamacchia, a switch-hitter, batted .273 with 15 homers and 65 RBIs last season, his highest average since becoming Boston’s starting catcher. But he struck out 139 times in 121 games in each of the past two seasons.

Ross started four of the six games in Boston’s World Series victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. Saltalamacchia went 0 for 6 in the two Series games he played and 6 for 32 (.188) in the postseason.

Saltalamacchia was nearing a three-year deal with the Miami Marlins on Tuesday evening.

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