After missing out on numerous big-name free agents, including Josh Hamilton (Angels) and Zack Greinke, the Texas Rangers finally made a splash on Thursday afternoon, striking a deal with catcher A.J. Pierzynski, according to ESPN's Jim Bowden. It is a one-year deal worth $7.5 million, pending a physical.
Pierzynski is coming off his best season since 2003, when he was with the Minnesota Twins. In 2012, he hit .278/.326/.501 in 520 plate appearances and smashed a career-best 27 homers for the White Sox, good for a 2.5 WARP campaign. The power surge did come with a significant uptick in strikeouts, as the 35-year-old whiffed 78 times, compared to 33 in 2011. Furthermore, Pierzynski saw a decrease in his ground-ball rate, from 50.6 percent in 2011 to 42 percent in 2012, and a rise in his fly-ball rate, from 28.5 percent in 2011 to 35.8 percent in 2012.
Texas will have to cope with Pierzynski's below-average defense; the catcher posted a -2.2 FRAA in 2012. Pierzynski will share time behind the plate with Geovany Soto, who re-signed with the Rangers this winter and has passable defense.
It seems unlikely that Pierzynski will be able to repeat his 2012 numbers, but the Rangers were desperate for offense after losing both Hamilton and Mike Napoli to free agency. Pierzynski does give Texas some balance to its lineup, adding a left-handed bat that can hit in the middle of the order.