Despite his remarkable consistency and durability, A.J. Pierzynski was unable to secure a multiyear deal again this winter. After spending 2013 with the Rangers, he’s joining the Red Sox on another one-year pact.
Working against Pierzynski is his age and throwing arm. Pierzynski turns 37 later this month, and he’s never been great at gunning down would-be basestealers. However, age seems to have hardly taken any toll on his game so far, and the arm alone is just a small piece of the puzzle when it comes to grading catchers.
That’s not to say Pierzynski is great. He’s a stopgap at this point in his career. But he really is on an amazing run. 2013 was his 13th straight season with 110 games caught and the 12th in a row in which he’s started that many. Despite not establishing himself until age 24, Pierzynski is up to 19th all-time in games caught with 1,678. He’ll pass Hall of Famers Yogi Berra, Bill Dickey, Ray Schalk and Johnny Bench on the list in 2014.
He’ll also be entering rarefied air if he can keep this 110-game streak going. Here’s the list of guys who caught 110 games at 37 or older:
37 – Brad Ausmus, Bob Boone, Carlton Fisk, Ivan Rodriguez, Benito Santiago, Ernie Whitt
38 – Brad Ausmus, Bob Boone, Fred Jacklitsch
39 – Bob Boone, Carlton Fisk
40 – Bob Boone
41 – Bob Boone
42 – Carlton Fisk
Since he won’t start against many left-handers, Pierzynski will probably need to stay completely healthy to get to 110 again. At 37, that’s not as sure of a bet as it used to be. However, he’s been proving doubters wrong for a decade now.
MASN’s Roch Kubatko is reporting that the Orioles have “some level” of interest in free agent outfielder Denard Span. The Nationals did not make a $15.8 million qualifying offer to Span, which means he doesn’t come attached with draft pick compensation unlike other free agents such as Alex Gordon and Dexter Fowler.
Span, who turns 32 in February, hit a solid .301/.365/.431 with five home runs, 22 RBI, 38 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases, but took only 275 plate appearances due to back and hip injuries. He underwent season-ending hip surgery in September but is expected to be ready to participate in spring training.
The Mets and Royals have also reportedly shown interest in Span’s services.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Blue Jays are on the prowl for relievers with closing experience. Ryan Madson is one of the names on their list.
Madson, 35, had a career rebirth with the Royals in 2015. He signed a minor league deal with the club that paid him a salary of $850,000 if he made it back to the majors. Due to a plethora of arm injuries, Madson hadn’t pitched in the majors since Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS against the Cardinals as a member of the Phillies. For the Royals, he wound up becoming a crucial member of the bullpen, finishing with a 2.13 ERA and a 58/14 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.
While Madson allowed five runs in 8 1/3 post-season innings, he pitched well when it mattered most, as he hurled three scoreless frames in three appearances in the World Series against the Mets.
Madson has closing experience, with 55 career saves. 32 of them came in 2011 when he took over the closer’s role from Brad Lidge.
After signing Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ, and trading for Jesse Chavez, the Jays have bolstered their rotation but it was reported on Saturday that interim GM Tony LaCava is still focused on upgrading the pitching staff.
ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that free agent pitcher Trevor Cahill is looking for a one-year, bounce-back deal. The Pirates are one of the potential teams he is considering.
It’s no surprise that the Pirates are on Cahill’s list. Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage has garnered a reputation as a miracle worker after turning around the careers of a handful of pitchers, including Edinson Volquez, Francisco Liriano, and J.A. Happ. Volquez parlayed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Pirates into a two-year, $20 million deal with the Royals last December. Liriano signed with the Pirates on a one-year, $1 million contract and turned that into a three-year, $39 million deal. Happ, dealt to the Pirates from the Mariners at the most recent trade deadline, just signed a three-year, $39 million contract with the Blue Jays.
Cahill, once a highly-regarded pitching prospect, has scuffled over parts of seven seasons in the majors. The 27-year-old owns a career 4.13 ERA with a 754/427 K/BB ratio in 1,083 2/3 innings. Cahill had some brief success after signing with the Cubs as a free agent in mid-August, compiling a 2.12 ERA in 11 appearances out of the bullpen.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Blue Jays have narrowed their search for a new general manager down to two candidates: current interim GM Tony LaCava, and Indians vice president of player personnel Ross Atkins. Former Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos resigned last month.
LaCava was promoted to interim GM on November 2 and has already made a handful of moves along with new president Mark Shapiro. The club acquired Jesse Chavez in a trade and signed pitchers Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ to multi-year deals.
Atkins worked under Shapiro in the Indians organization for 15 seasons, so it is no surprise that he is a finalist for the open GM position.