Chicago White Sox: Can They Afford to Let A.J. Pierzynski Walk Away?

Jon FromiSenior Analyst IAugust 6, 2012

A.J. Pierzynski is having a spectacular year. It's also a contract year.
A.J. Pierzynski is having a spectacular year. It's also a contract year.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Chicago White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski is enjoying a career season with the bat with just under two months to play in the 2012 season. Would the White Sox let him walk away after such a surprising offensive performance?

The 35-year-old backstop is making $6 million in the final year of a two-year, $8 million contract. It was feared that the White Sox would not step up and bring back Pierzynski when a deal was struck to keep him on the South Side.

Two years later, Chicago is faced with a similar question as after the 2010 season ended. Do they hitch their wagon to an aging catcher for the next few seasons?

Answering that question is not easy, especially with the season Pierzynski is having. His pinch-hit homer in Chicago's 4-2 victory Sunday against Anaheim was his fifth game in a row in which he has taken a ball out of the yard.

Pierzynski's 21st homer is already a career-high. It is a strong possibility that he will also eclipse his season marks in RBI, slugging percentage and OPS. If the man wanted to have a strong contract year, then mission accomplished.

Pierzynski is probably going to be looking for a two or three-year extension and there will be teams willing to put up the cash. Will the White Sox be one of them?

It's hard to think that Pierzynski will continue to see his numbers rise as he nears his late 30's. However, with the team no closer to knowing where Tyler Flowers fits into the scheme of things, Pierzynski is a hard guy to send on his way.

It would seem that Pierzynski is a good fit as a longtime veteran who is loved in Chicago nearly as much as he's hated everywhere else. Pierzynski is a steady left-handed bat who is among the better hitting players at his position.

Depending on what he wants as far as restitution, the White Sox could offer Pierzynski the terms to keep him in the fold. What may have been a clearer situation a few months ago is going to be a tough decision this winter.

Can Chicago afford to commit to an aging catcher? For that matter, can they afford not to?