Pierzynski joins Rangers with one-year contract
Veteran could be club's No. 1 catcher or form platoon with Soto
By T.R. Sullivan / 12/20/12 10:35 PM ET
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers reached an agreement with catcher A.J. Pierzynski on a one-year contract worth $7.5 million on Thursday, according to a source. An announcement is expected Friday after Pierzynski undergoes a physical in Arlington.
Pierzynski comes in with a chance to be the Rangers' No. 1 catcher or form a platoon with Geovany Soto. But this signing addresses maybe the biggest concern about the lineup after Texas lost Mike Napoli to free agency this offseason.
Pierzynski, who turns 36 on Dec. 30, hit .278 with 27 home runs and 77 RBIs in 135 games for the White Sox in 2012. His .501 slugging percentage and his .827 OPS were the highest in 12 full seasons with the Twins, Giants and White Sox. He was the starting catcher on the White Sox 2005 World Series championship team and is a career .300 hitter in postseason play.
Texas catchers hit a combined .228 in 2012 with a .397 slugging percentage. Both numbers ranked eighth in the American League after the club led both categories at that position in 2011.
Soto, a right-handed hitter, batted .198 with 11 home runs and 33 RBIs in 99 games for the Rangers and the Cubs this season. He could end up in a platoon with Pierzynski, who is a left-handed hitter.
Pierzynski had some ill feelings toward Rangers manager Ron Washington last July when he was left off the All-Star team. But the exchange also showed how Washington feels about Pierzynski as a player. After the AL All-Star team was announced, Washington said he felt bad that Pierzynski wasn't selected.
"The guy's having an outstanding year," Washington said. "He's been working with a very good pitching staff over there with those Chicago White Sox for many years. I consider him a winning player because he beats you any kind of way he can. He beats you mentally, he beats you physically. So I feel really bad for Pierzynski."
Pierzynski, who has been known to be outspoken, replied by saying, "If he felt that bad, he would have put me on the team. He had an opportunity to and he didn't do it. Obviously, he can feel as bad as he wants, but he didn't feel that bad."
Pierzynski threw out 20 percent of attempted basestealers this season. He has thrown out 18.7 percent in his career, which ranks 26th out of 27 active catchers with at least 480 games caught.