In an act to get younger, the Boston Red Sox have designated catcher A.J. Pierzynski for assignment on Wednesday, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported. In a corresponding move, the Red Sox purchased the contract of catcher Christian Vazquez from Triple-A Pawtucket.
In an appearance on WEEI radio, Red Sox manager John Farrell confirmed that the team wants to get younger (per WEEI.com's Alex Speier). "We’re turning the page in terms of investing in young players," Farrell said. The Red Sox had five rookies in last night's lineup.
On the other hand, the one-year, $8.25 million deal the Red Sox signed with Pierzynski did not turn out as hoped for the team. In 274 plate appearances this season, Pierzynski slashed .254/.286/.348 with an OPS of a well below average .633. All three of his triple-slash line stats were far from his career averages, with his slugging percentage taking the largest drop of 77 points. His defense was fine, with the Red Sox posting a 4.12 ERA when he was behind the dish.
The Red Sox must feel that they can get the same defensive capabilities from Vazquez, while also getting an underrated bat from him. Some on Twitter compared Vazquez to Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz. On the year for Triple-A Pawtucket, Vazquez hit .279/.336/.385 with three homers and 20 runs batted in. The Red Sox expect Vazquez to get mentored by longtime veteran catcher David Ross.
The Red Sox now have ten days to decide what they want to do with Pierzynski. They can either release, trade, place him on waivers, or outright him off the 40-man roster to the minor leagues (an assignment he can refuse and elect free agency anyway). The trade market for catchers this season is relatively weak, so the Red Sox might be able to get a good deal for Pierzynski to ship him off elsewhere. If the Red Sox, in a trade, cannot find a taker for Pierzynski's salary, they will owe him $3.6 million the rest of the year.
Pierzynski expressed interest in continuing his playing career. According to Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com, Pierzynski "absolutely" wants to continue playing. The Red Sox might be able to make that work through a trade within the next ten days. As of right now, however, the Sox want to continue to get younger and rebuild their World Series champion team.