On Monday night, the Pioneer Press's Mike Berardino tweeted
that an MLB Official told him that the Twins were no longer "in the mix" on AJ Pierzynski. In recent days, it had been reported that the Twins and Pierzynski's representatives were making progress in contract discussions.
- Monday morning, it was announced the Pierzynski has reached terms with the Boston Red Sox. What does that mean for the Twins pursuit of a catcher? Discuss in the Forum!
I just can't help but thinking whether the Twins really should be considering a reunion with AJ Pierzynski. So, I thought I'd write it out to see what I thought. He really has had a very good MLB career. He was an All-Star in 2002. He had the best numbers of his career as a Minnesota Twins catcher. He hit .301/.341/.447 (.788) in his time with the Twins and played in the 2002 All-Star game. In 2003, he hit .312/.360/.464 (.824) the season before he was traded. He was a very good player.
In my mind, it makes absolutely no sense for the Twins to bring back the 37 year old catcher. Some may think it is his personality that makes me think this. Not the case at all.
As Ozzie Guillen famously once said of Pierzynski, "If you play against him, you hate him. If you play with him, you hate him a little less."
That is not the reason for not bringing him in, however.
Twins fans have been booing Pierzynski ever since he left. First, I am not a person who believes in booing people, so I have never partaken in that ridiculousness. I've never understood it. He was huge in the Twins' last playoff series win. He was a big part of the organization's turnaround in the early years of this century. He did not ask to leave. He was traded. And in that trade the Twins acquired Boof Bonser, Francisco Liriano and Joe Nathan. That turned out pretty well for the Twins, particularly when you consider it also opened the door for Joe Mauer to play.
Sure, there were the times he would try to clip Justin Morneau's feet as he ran by first base on ground balls. Sure, he is an irritant. But again, those are not reasons for the Twins to not bring back Pierzynski.
Joe Mauer has moved to first base full time, and the Twins could use a veteran catcher. They have Josmil Pinto, but he could use some mentorship, or even some additional time in AAA in 2014. So, it does make sense to bring in a player like Pierzynski.
Pierzynski has been a winner throughout his career. That is a phrase the Twins have used a lot this offseason. Some may believe his personality has helped his teams to the playoffs. Others say that he's been just one piece on the teams he has been on.
He has been remarkably durable through his career. Annually, he has played in no fewer than 128 games since the 2002 season. That said, he went on the disabled list for the first time in his career in 2013. Not that that means anything necessarily, but it's certainly not unusual for a catcher at 37 to start getting hurt more often.
So, I have acknowledged that it is not his personality that makes me say the Twins should not go after AJ Pierzynski. It's not his success or performance earlier in his career. He has been on very good, winning teams.
He is going to want a multi-year contract, and I don't think that makes a lot of sense for a 37 year old catcher when you've got a 25 year old catcher who is nearly ready.
It's also simply about performance. Frankly, Pierzynski was not very good in 2013 with the Texas Rangers. He hit .272, but he got on base just 29.7% of the time! Yes, he had 17 home runs for the Rangers, but do we actually expect him to hit for any power as a left-hander at Target Field? I mean, I would anticipate him hitting about .265/.290/.350 (.640) as a Twin.
Defensively, Parker tweeted
earlier today that he was worth -11.4 RAA (or Runs Above Average) due to framing in 2013. That's pretty bad. He also threw out just 26% of would-be base stealers in 2013. He hasn't topped 30% in any season since the 32% he threw out for the Twins in 2002.
So to summarize...
AJ Pierzynski is going to be a 37 year old catcher, is looking for a multi-year contract at a starter's wage, likely $7 to $9 million per year, who no longer has much ability to hit and is apparently allergic to walking and doesn't do a very effective job defensively.
Don't get me wrong. If he is willing to come here for one year and $5-6 million, I'm fine with that. I won't write a scathing article or anything.
There are other options. If the Twins choose to go big, they could sign Jarrod Saltalamacchia for three or four years. He's nine years younger than Pierzynski and still has some upside. JP Arencibia was terrible with the Blue Jays, but now that Toronto decided to sign Dionner Navarro for the next two years, Arencibia will likely be non-tendered. Ryan Hanigan is said to be available. And, there are any number of veteran, backup catchers available.
So yes, it was a relief to hear that the Twins are likely out of the AJ Pierzynski sweepstakes, but until he signs elsewhere, I will remain a little nervous.
So what do you think? Should AJ Pierzynski be a priority for the Minnesota Twins this offseason?