Monday, February 22, 2010

The Future of AJ Pierzynski

AJ Pierzynski has been the heart and soul of the White Sox since 2005, but will 2010 be his final season with the club? Perhaps:

''No matter what happens, I will never wish bad on the White Sox organization. They have been nothing but great to me, from [chairman] Jerry [Reinsdorf] to [general manager] Kenny [Williams] to [manager] Ozzie [Guillen].''

Pierzynski is in the final year of a three-year extension he signed in 2007. He's 33 years old.

Tyler Flowers is Williams' latest golden boy. He's a hit-first, ask-questions-later offensive catcher who was acquired in the trade that sent Javier Vazquez to the Atlanta Braves in 2008.

Flowers just turned 24.

Do the math.


What does Pierzynski want?

''I want to stay, and everyone knows that,'' he said. ''There's no doubt about that.''

If Pierzynski entered the free agent market this winter, he probably would have been the most coveted catcher out there given his experience and production. However, Pierzynski is set to be a free agent after the 2010 season, which means he will be a member of one of the deepest free agent catching classes in history right now (Mauer, Victor Martinez, Gerald Laird, Ramon Hernandez). After Mauer and Martinez, I would rate Pierzynski above Laird and Hernandez because of his experience, leadership, left handed bat, and he's still a very useful player at the plate.

However, Pierzynski's experience will also play against him. Pierzynski will be 34 years old at the end of the 2010 season and I'd be shocked to see a team give him a deal that exceeds two guaranteed years. Even if Pierzynski puts together a career season with the Sox in 2010, the risk is simply too high given how catchers decline with age.

With all that said, I would not be surprised to see the White Sox extend a one or two year offer to Pierzynski, who could act as a mentor to Tyler Flowers as he adjusts to the majors. Pierzynski makes it obvious that he wants to stay on the south side, but would he stay if it meant reduced playing time? We'll see.

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