Source: Texas Rangers agree to one-year deal with catcher A.J. Pierzynski

12/20/2012 11:42 PM

03/24/2013 1:08 AM

He's not Zack Greinke or Josh Hamilton, but A.J. Pierzynski addresses one of the two primary needs the Texas Rangers had entering this off-season.

The free-agent catcher has agreed to a one-year deal, according to a major league source, and will likely assume regular catching duties as Geovany Soto slides into more of a reserve roll.

The Rangers played host to Pierzynski on Tuesday at Rangers Ballpark, along with free-agent outfielder Cody Ross, and were believed to be close to a deal Wednesday night.

The deal will become official after Pierzynski passes a physical, perhaps as soon as today.

General manager Jon Daniels declined comment.

Pierzynski is coming off the most productive year of his career and is considered a defensive upgrade over Mike Napoli, who left the Rangers earlier this month for a yet-to-be-signed deal with Boston.

Pierzynski swatted a career-high 27 homers for the Chicago White Sox and matched his career-high with 77 RBIs over 136 games. His .278 batting average was a shade below his career mark of .284.

That production was better in all three traditional statistical categories than Napoli, and Pierzynski struck out 42 fewer times in 127 more at-bats.

He also threw out 26.2 percent of base stealers, as opposed to 20.8 percent for Napoli.

But Pierzynski couldn't parlay the season into a multiyear deal in large part because of his age. Though he started 121 games behind the plate in 2012, Pierzynski turns 36 on Dec. 30, and clubs apparently were unwilling to go to three or four years or give a reasonable two-year offer.

He signed with the Rangers even though he had a mini-feud last summer with manager Ron Washington just before the All-Star break. Pierzynski had posted numbers worthy of a third All-Star nod, but was passed over because Washington had to take Joe Mauer so that Minnesota would be represented in the Midsummer Classic.

Washington said that Pierzynski was having "an outstanding year" and that he felt "really bad" to snub him.

Pierzynski didn't mince words with his response.

"If he felt that bad, he would have put me on the team," he said. "He had an opportunity to and he didn't do it. Obviously, he can feel as bad as he wants, but he didn't feel that bad."

The Rangers' work will continue after missing out on the top two free agents this off-season, Greinke and Hamilton. The club remains interested in adding a starting pitcher, though sources said they were never serious players for right-hander Edwin Jackson, who reportedly will sign with the Cubs.

The bullpen is another area the Rangers will try to address as their key off-season acquisition, Joakim Soria, won't be fully recovered from Tommy John surgery until late May.

The outfield is another area where the Rangers will look for help, and they remain interested in Ross. But they have shown little interest in free agent Michael Bourn so far, and the Rangers believe that the price tag for Nick Swisher remains too high.

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @JeffWilson_FWST

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