Next Monday's off-day for the White Sox, coming on June 14, just might mark an important milestone in A.J. Pierzynski's stellar Major League Baseball career.
Pierzynski has become the topic of interest for the past month on the South Side because the free agent after the 2010 season earns 10-and-5 status on this Monday. Having played at least 10 years in the Majors and at least five straight with the same team gives Pierzynski no-trade veto power, but with the White Sox slipping out of contention and Tyler Flowers waiting at Triple-A Charlotte, Pierzynski could be moved before that week runs off the calendar.
Even with this status, though, Pierzynski said Sunday it wouldn't automatically mean he stays in Chicago for the remainder of the 2010 campaign. If the situation makes sense for both sides, Pierzynski would consider consenting to a trade.
"Obviously, if the White Sox aren't where we want to be and a team has a chance for the playoffs and to win the World Series and they come and say, 'Hey, we need a catcher,' it would be hard to say no to that," Pierzynski said. "How would you go about that? That's something [where] my love for Chicago and this organization would be a deciding factor, but it's hard as a player to say no.
There are a number of factors working against the White Sox here when it comes to dealing with Pierzynksi
1. Decline at the plate
Pierzynksi's offense this season has tailed off considerably as he is hitting just .218 with two home runs and a uninspiring .257 OBP. At this stage in his career, Pierzynski does not appear to be much of an upgrade at the dish.
2. Who needs a catcher?
Oddly enough there is not a pressing demand out there for a starting catcher. The team with the most obvious need for a catcher right now is the Rangers, but even they seem content with Matt Treanor and with Jarrod Saltalamacchia waiting in the wings. Because of the struggles of Gerald Laird behind the plate, the Tigers might be another fit for Pierzynksi, but at the same time, they seem committed to seeing what Alex Avila can do. It's an odd year in that most of the teams that are competing for a playoff spot right now all seem to be set behind the plate in some capacity.
3. Tyler Flowers
Entering the season, Flowers was one of the White Sox best prospects, but his performance this season at AAA has been disappointing to say the least. Despite showing impressive power (10 HR), Flowers is only hitting a weak .214 with a whopping 63 strikeouts, which would seem to suggest that the young catcher is in need of more seasoning at AAA.
As strange as it sounds right now, the White Sox seem to be better off holding onto Pierzynski for the foreseeable future in the hopes that either Pierzynski picks up his level of play or that a team develops a pressing need for a catcher. The fact that Pierzynksi's 10/5 rights will kick in by the middle of June will certainly muddle things when it comes to trade talks, but right now there seems to be little chance that the White Sox will be able to get a sizable return for Pierzynski to warrant dealing him. In addition, the White Sox have to hope that Flowers becomes a more consistent hitter at AAA and demonstrates to the organization that he is ready to take over as the team's full time starter.
At worst, the White Sox would be stuck with Pierzynski for the remainder of the season until his contract with the club runs out, which might not be the worst thing for the franchise if Tyler Flowers continues to struggle.