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

Doug Rush@Doug_RushSenior Analyst IDecember 20, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 17:  A.J. Pierzynski #12 of the Chicago White Sox bats against the Detroit Tigers at U.S. Cellular Field on September 17, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The White Sox defeated the Tigers 5-4.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

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.

Sources: Pierzynski, #Rangers closing in on one-year contract. Deal will be pending a physical, not yet done.

— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 20, 2012


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

Rangers and A.J. Pierzynski have agreed to terms on a one-year contract pending tomorrow's physical

— JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) December 20, 2012


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.

Cashman confirms that he's talked to reps for Youkilis, Pierzynski; Chavez, Ibanez & Ichiro too.

— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) December 5, 2012


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.

#yankees still cant get excited about pierzynski (looking to go with romine), so #rangers may be best bet. aj hit 27 bombs

— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 19, 2012


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.

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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