Seattle Mariners: 3 Reasons They Should Sign A.J. Pierzynski
Without question the biggest need to the Mariners this winter is offensive firepower. They've already bettered themselves by letting go of two offensively deficient commodities, Chone Figgins and Miguel Olivo.
The end of Olivo's contract leaves Jesus Montero and John Jaso as backstops. Montero hit well in his first full big-league season, but struggled behind the plate. He threw out just 11 of 65 would-be base stealers. Offensively, Montero was impressive for a 22-year-old, slugging 15 homers with a .684 OPS.
Jaso didn't get to play every day, but he always seemed to come through in the clutch when he got the call. He had the highest batting average on the team at .276, and walked more than he struck out, racking up on base, slugging and OPS averages of .394, .456 and .850, respectively.
If the season started today, Jaso would most likely start at catcher with Montero in the lineup as DH. Seattle also drafted former Florida catcher Mike Zunino third overall in the 2012 draft. The 21-year-old hit .360/.447/.689 with 13 home runs in 44 minor league games last season.
All that being said, the Mariners need hitting, and their situation at catcher is muggy due to Montero's inexperience.
The top two free-agent catchers are off the board already (Napoli, Martin), and if the Mariners are looking at catchers for next season they need to act fast.
Here are three reasons why they should sign A.J. Pierzynski.
Price Is Right
At age 35, Pierzynski can't be expecting more than a three- or four-year deal.
And that's the only amount of time the M's should sign him for. With Montero and Zunino still developing and Jaso in the middle of his prime, they need to be careful about over-sigining a veteran catcher whose knees are twice as old as the rest of his body.
A three-year contract worth $17 million should be about right to reel in Pierzynski.
A lifetime .284 hitter, Pierzynski has hit .300 or better three times in his career. In 2012 at age 35, he set career highs in runs, home runs, RBI, slugging and OPS. He also grounded into just eight double plays, his lowest total since 2001.
Though these aren't typical numbers for the veteran backstop, Pierzynski is good for a .275 to .300 batting average with 15 homers and 75 RBI.
Eric Wedge can organize a catcher/first base/DH by committee with Justin Smoak, Jaso, Montero and Pierzynski until three players step up and take each starting job. Pierzynski would also add catching depth and a fiery attitude to the club house.
A.J. Pierzynski would add some much-needed veteran leadership to the youngest team in baseball.
The Mariners' average age is 25.5 years old, and the oldest player on Seattle's current roster is 33. Pierzynski knows how to win and play in big games, and would help teach the young and inexperienced Mariners how to win.