Monday, December 19, 2005

Pierzynski Back For More

WhiteSox.com reports that the Sox have re-signed A.J. Pierzynski to a 3-year, $15 million contract. The deal is apparently structured to pay AJ $4 million in 2006 and $5.5 million each in 2007 and 2008.

This strikes me as a pretty good deal for the White Sox. These are Pierzynski's age 29, 30 and 31 seasons. As a catcher, he is unlikely to be much more valuable after those three years.

Surprisingly enough, Pierzynski did not put up incredibly good numbers in 2005, even if he hit a career high 18 home runs. His .257/.308/.420 line was a career worst, and he actually wound up
behind Gregg Zaun and Jason Kendall in terms of VORP. In fact, he was 20th in VORP among catchers in 2005, down from 17th in 2004 (even though his 2005 VORP was higher at 17.7). Of course, as recently as 2003, Pierzynski was a guy who was the 6th most valuable catcher in the league (offensively speaking).

It's a safe bet that Pierzynski, comfortable in Chicago with a 3-year deal and coming off of an incredibly successful playoff run, will perform better in 2006. One would expect his average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage to rise by 20-30 points each to return to his historical norms. If so, he'll be worth 15-20 more runs on his own for the White Sox. He'll make that $4 million look cheap.

On the payroll side, the trade for Vazquez, in which the Sox gave up Vizcaino and El Duque - who figured to make about $6.5 million in 2006, gives the Sox an estimated payroll of about $88.5 million going into 2006 (assuming Crede and Garland get a collective $8 million in their arbitrations). If Garland breaks the bank in arbitration, one would expect the payroll to exceed $90 million.

That is, of course, until the Sox decide that they do not need six starters.

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