How the Red Sox intended to fill the catcher position was one of the bigger questions of last offseason. Ultimately, it appeared that they had three choices: stick with Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who was coming off a solid season but likely would require a somewhat large contract; sign a star catcher in Brian McCann; or sign a stopgap catcher for 2014 who would not block any prospects. The Red Sox decided to go with the latter option and sign A.J. Pierzynski to a 1 year/$8.25M contract to serve as the Red Sox’ starting catcher.
However, Pierzynski has failed even in the modest task of filling space for the 2014 season and not being terrible. Though Pierzysnki did hold his own until his recent prolonged slump, that slump has been bad enough to shrink his slash line to a meager .254/.286/.348 combined with his mediocre defense, which give Pierzynski just 0.1 wins above replacement according to FanGraphs.
With the Red Sox sitting 10.5 games out of the division lead at 39-51, it’s clear that the Red Sox are not contenders and thus are going into full sell-mode. The Red Sox have begun to shop many of their veterans, but this designation is the first sign that the Red Sox are truly going to be sellers at this year’s trade deadline.
However, it’s a move that clearly makes sense for the team’s present and future. Prospect Christian Vazquez is sitting at Triple-A Pawtucket and will likely now be recalled to start for the Red Sox through the remainder of the season. While Vazquez is no offensive stud, slashing just .279/.336/.385 for the PawSox, his defensive prowess is well-known and he deserves a shot at hitting Major League pitching. With Boston out of contention by now, the Red Sox can give Vazquez some low-pressure at bats and determine whether or not they need to acquire another stopgap catcher for the 2015 season. Designating Pierzynski is a smart move for the Red Sox to phase in some young talent and it’s a good way to start this year’s selling.