Russell Martin is set to become a free agent once the World Series is complete and the New York Yankees are going to need to find a way to replace him. A.J. Pierzynski could be an interesting fit for the Yankees as they look to try to get back to the World Series for the first time since 2009.
It has already been suggested by John Harper of The New York Daily News that the Yankees should go after Pierzynski. In a previous piece making bold predictions for the offseason, I have also noted that Pierzynski could leave the Chicago White Sox this winter.
Considering the Yankees' reliance on home runs this season, Pierzynski would match the Yankees' offensive approach. New York set a franchise record during the 2012 season with 245 home runs (h/t Greg Johns of MLB.com).
While Pierzynski has not traditionally been thought of as a power hitter, he is coming off a season in which he hit 27 home runs in 135 games. He has solid pop for a catcher and has averaged around 10 home runs a year during his career. More importantly for the Yankees, Pierzynski has a .284 batting average for his career.
From a run production standpoint, Pierzynski has also been fairly consistent during his time in the majors. Over the past 12 seasons, Pierzynski has reached the 50 RBI mark nine times. During that time frame, he has also had at least 60 RBI in a season six times.
Martin has struggled over the past few seasons and has seen his batting average drop off significantly. During the 2012 season, he hit just .211. Even though he hit 21 home runs, Martin drove in just 53 runners.
With Pierzynski, the Yankees know that they are going to have a veteran presence that they can trust, while Martin is more of a unknown when it comes to production.
What catcher should the Yankees sign this winter?
Pierzynski's attitude has drawn some ire over the years, but that should not be a cause for concern (h/t Ben Reiter of Sports Illustrated). He is an incredibly passionate player that is not afraid to wear his emotions on his sleeve. This type of approach to the game may be the shot in the arm that the Yankees need given their failures in the postseason.
There is only one other option on the market that the Yankees could reasonably consider at this point. Mike Napoli is coming off a year in which he hit .227 with 24 home runs and 56 RBI. Those numbers are fairly similar to Martin's production. However, the biggest difference between the three catchers is price. It is almost certain that Napoli will get the biggest deal, and it is hard to say that he is worth at least a few million more a year than Pierzynski.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports has predicted that Pierzynski will get between $10-12 million over the course of a two-year contract. At around $6 million a year, Pierzynski's contract will allow the Yankees to pursue a number of other players this winter.
Based on the free agent catching market this winter, Pierzynski is the best option for the Yankees. The problem for them is that he is the best option for a number of other teams, as well. Pierzynski would be an upgrade over Martin and the Yankees should do whatever they can within reason to acquire him.