The Texas Rangers succeeded in landing some reinforcements for their lineup by agreeing to a one-year, $7.5 million contract with free agent catcher A.J. Pierzynski on Thursday.
The Rangers have spent the Winter so far watching as three of their offensive regulars, Mike Napoli, Josh Hamilton, and Michael Young either left or were traded. In Pierzynski, the Rangers get a left handed bat to help balance the lineup and one that turned in a career season in 2012.
Pierzynski will be 36 at the end of this month, so duplication of his 27-homer, 77-RBI campaign seems unlikely, even in the hitter’s haven that is Rangers Ballpark. Pierzynski slugged .501 last season, 37 points above his previous best.
Pierzynski doesn’t throw out baserunners very well, but does have a strong reputation as a receiver and handler of pitchers. The Rangers had planned on using Geovany Soto as their number one catcher, but Pierzynski hasn’t played in fewer than 128 games in a season since 2001 and is one of the most durable backstops in the game.
While Pierzynski isn’t likely to hit as well as he did a year ago, he is an upgrade over what Texas would have gotten from Soto. To get him on a one-year deal is a wise move for GM Jon Daniels and one of the few wins he’s had thus far in the off-season. The Rangers still have holes to fill, but landing Pierzynski adds a strong left handed bat that is capable of replacing at least most of the production that Napoli provided.