A.J. Pierzynski: Possible Suitors At Trade Deadline


A.J. Pierzynski signed with the Atlanta Braves this past offseason to back-up catching prospect and projected starter Christian Bethancourt.

The A.J. Pierzynski signing did not work out exactly as planned for the Atlanta Braves, as the veteran 38-year-old catcher has impressed offensively this season amidst the offensive struggles of Bethancourt. Because of Pierzynski’s excellent play in 2015, the Braves sent Bethancourt back to AAA Gwinnett to give him more playing time. This has made Pierzynski the de facto starting catcher for the Braves up to this point in the season.

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On the year, A.J. Pierzynski is hitting an impressive .284 to go along with 6 home-runs and 30 runs batted in. He also possesses a .323 on base percentage and a .428 slugging percentage. These are marvelous statistics for a catcher whose only job at the onset of the season was to provide mentorship to a young and developing catcher.

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Though A.J. Pierzynski has played well thus far this season for the Braves, it makes the veteran catcher an attractive target for playoff contending teams before the MLB’s Trade Deadline on Friday, July 31. Being 38-years-old and in the sunset of his career, the Atlanta Braves will most likely want to sell high on A.J. Pierzynski’s good year, acquiring some more young talent before his contract expires before the end of the 2015 season.

Here are three possible landing spots for A.J. Pierzynski if the Atlanta Braves do in fact move him before Friday:

  • Minnesota Twins: A young team in the hunt for a Wild Card spot in the American League, the Twins are in desperate need of offensive output behind the plate. Starting Catcher Kurt Suzuki is hitting a lowly .229 on the year. Also because the Twins play in the American League, it would afford A.J. Pierzynski a chance to DH, providing depth behind Twins’ DH Kennys Vargas, who is only hitting .245. If acquired by the Twins, it would be a homecoming of sorts for Pierzynski, who began his career in Minneapolis and played there from 1998-2003. The Twins own a deep farm system, and could offer the Bravos the young pitching prospects that John Hart covets.

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  • Tampa Bay Rays: Out of all possible landing spots for A.J. Pierzynski, perhaps no team is in such dire need of increased offensive output from behind the plate than the Tampa Bay Rays. Rays’ starting Catcher Rene Rivera is hitting a lowly .176 for the year. On a team that is trying to remain afloat in the AL East and AL Wild Card race, Tampa Bay could be desperate enough to make it worth the Braves’ while to send A.J. Pierzynski to St. Petersburg.
  • Houston Astros: The Houston Astros are in a similar position to the Minnesota Twins, who find themselves in the midst of a close divisional race in the American League West, sitting only 1 game back of the division leading Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Astros’ starting Catcher Jason Vargas is hitting an unsightly .215 on the year to go along with only 19 RBI’s and a .643 OPS. A.J. Pierzynski would immediately provide veteran leadership on a young team that is contending for a playoff spot, while ameliorating the Astros’ offensive output from behind the plate. Once again, playing in the American League would provide Pierzynski the opportunity to DH in tandem with former Brave Evan Gattis, giving Houston two effective DH’s from both sides of the plate.

A.J. Pierzynski has stated that he grew up a Braves fan in Orlando, Florida. It will be difficult to say goodbye in the event the Braves do move him; but Pierzynski deserves the chance to play on a contending team in the twilight of his career. Who knows? Maybe A.J. decides to return to Atlanta after the 2015 season and re-sign with the Braves, giving him a chance to finish his career on his favorite childhood team. Keep it here for all things Braves leading up to Friday’s trade deadline.

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