Source: Pierzynski agrees to 1-year deal with Braves
Seventeen-year vet expected to mentor catching prospect Bethancourt
By Mark Bowman
ATLANTA -- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez's trip to Honeybaked Ham led to the revelation that his club and A.J. Pierzynski have agreed to a one-year deal. The club has not confirmed the contract.
While waiting to pick up his ham for the holiday season on Wednesday, Gonzalez was telling his son that Pierzynski was an option to fill the Braves' need for a backup catcher. The father of Aaron Lunsford, the drummer for a rock band named "As Cities Burn," overheard the news and informed his son, who tweeted the information from his @darrenstains account.
An industry source later confirmed that the two parties have agreed to the terms of a one-year deal. The terms were not revealed and the deal is pending a physical that will likely not take place until early January. So, the Braves will likely wait at least another week before confirming the completion of this deal.
Pierzynski has proven to be a polarizing figure throughout his 17-season Major League career. He did not prove to be a good fit in the Red Sox clubhouse this past season, but after he was released by Boston on July 16, he signed with St. Louis and seemed to find a lot more friends within the Cardinals' clubhouse.
Pierzynski's sometimes brash nature could prove beneficial, as he is now tasked with serving as a mentor to Christian Bethancourt, the talented Braves prospect whose effort level has been questioned throughout his professional career. Bethancourt is projected to serve as Atlanta's primary catcher throughout the 2015 season.
While the Braves view Pierzynski as a potential clubhouse leader, he could also provide some on-field production. The 37-year-old catcher batted .251 with five homers and a .625 OPS while combining for 362 plate appearances with the Red Sox and Cardinals in 2014.
If Pierzynski passes his physical and the deal is completed, the Braves will need to create a 40-man roster spot for the veteran catcher. They have recently gauged other club's interest in left-handed reliever Luis Avilan, and they have not ruled out the possibility of trading Evan Gattis, their former starting catcher who is currently slated to serve as the starting left fielder.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.