A.J. Pierzynski: Re-Sign Vet for Clubhouse Leadership?


The Atlanta Braves signed A.J. Pierzynski to a 1-year deal at the beginning of the season, but should the team consider re-signing the veteran to add leadership to the clubhouse?

Last offseason, the Atlanta Braves looked for a stop-gap catcher; thus, the team signed veteran catcher A.J. Pierzynski to a 1-year deal. With the Braves looking for Christian Bethancourt to carve out a role this season, Pierzynski seemed to be destined for a platoon role. However, with Bethancourt’s struggles, Pierzynski locked in a near-everyday catching role with the team.

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A.J. Pierzynski finished his 18th Major League season this year, first with the Atlanta Braves. In 2014, Pierzynski split time between the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals, having been traded midway through the season. The Red Sox traded Pierzynski to a contender that was postseason-bound. Although the Cardinals did not make the World Series, Pierzynski earned valuable postseason experience.

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With the Atlanta Braves’ eyeing a 2017 resurrection, A.J. Pierzynski presents a valuable proposition, both from a catching standpoint and a leadership standpoint. Only a couple players on the Braves’ roster have postseason experience; thus, adding Pierzynski on for another year brings a veteran, postseason experienced player to the clubhouse.

The Atlanta Braves lack veteran leadership; therefore, adding Pierzynski to the roster next season brings back a veteran presence that the team may struggle to find. A.J. Pierzynski is a two-time All-Star (2002 and 2006) and a Silver Slugger Award winner in 2012. In addition to his awards, Pierzynski won a World Series title in 2005 as a member of the Chicago White Sox.

With a World Series ring on A.J. Pierzynski’s finger, he brings postseason knowledge that only a handful of people on the planet possess. The Atlanta Braves want a competitive roster by 2017, and by competitive roster, John Hart means a team that can compete for a World Series title. The Braves made a notion to improve their bullpen this offseason; thus, adding Pierzynski to the mix allows their new and young arms to learn from a veteran catcher. 

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The Atlanta Braves have a plethora of young arms in their farm system looking to earn a role with the team. A.J. Pierzynski brings a veteran mentality to a team in desperate need of just that. The Braves could allow Pierzynski to be hands-on with their young arms and groom them into the pitchers the team expects. Christian Bethancourt does not present the same value as Pierzynski, and Pierzynski creates a viable stop-gap option to get the Braves through what looks to be another rocky season.

The Braves want to focus on adding quality bullpen arms this offseason, but that does not mean the team will turn the other cheek to their hitting woes. While A.J. Pierzynski adds short-term value to the team, the Braves may look at other catching options in addition to Pierzynski (i.e. Matt Wieters or Jonathan Lucroy). Look for the Braves to be heavily active in the market this offseason, potentially starting with re-signing Pierzynski. 

Next: Atlanta Braves: Trade for Rockies' Arenado, LeMahieu?

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