MLB Free Agency 2013: A.J. Pierzynski Passes on Yankees, Signs with Rangers

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MLB Free Agency 2013: A.J. Pierzynski Passes on Yankees, Signs with Rangers
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The New York Yankees just lost another option for their vacant catcher spot.

First, it was Russell Martin, who bolted from the Bronx to the Pirates on a two-year deal. Now, the last big free-agent catcher is officially off the market.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports was the first to break the news that the Texas Rangers were closing in on a one-year deal for the veteran A.J. Pierzynski.

Jim Bowden of ESPN confirmed the deal, and it's pending a physical.

The terms of the contract are not known just yet. The 35-year-old Pierzynski will replace the departed Mike Napoli as the starting catcher, who agreed to a three-year deal with the Boston Red Sox this winter (though the deal has reportedly hit a snag and not yet been made official).

Yankees GM Brian Cashman had been in discussions with Pierzynski's representatives during the annual baseball winter meetings, but they never made a deal.

According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports and WFAN, the Yankees were really never able to get excited over Pierzynski, as they only saw him as an average defender.

Pierzynski hit .278 with 27 home runs and 77 RBI for the White Sox in 2012 and it looks like it might have come down to the Yankees, White Sox and Rangers vying for his services.

The White Sox are going in a different direction behind the plate, and the Yankees decided not to make an offer, which left the Rangers as the clear-cut choice for his services.

So now, with all of the top free-agent catchers (Pierzynski, Napoli and Martin) off the market, it really makes the Yankees' catching position an even bigger mystery.

They still have Francisco Cervelli, Chris Stewart and the newly-signed Bobby Wilson, plus minor-league hopeful Austin Romine.

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Most of them are viewed as backup catchers and defensive replacements rather than full-time starters.

It's quite possible that the Yankees and Cashman could still look to make a trade, but they'll have to get really creative, especially if they want to get under the $189 million luxury threshold before 2014.

Just another hole in the Yankees lineup that they have to figure out before Opening Day.

Stay tuned, Yankees Universe.

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