Pierzynski ready for free agency this time

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Pierzynski ready for free agency this time

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- A.J. Pierzynski sounds as if hes more prepared to handle free agency this time around.

During a Wednesday morning appearance on the Golf Channel, the free agent catcher said his previous stint on the market two offseasons ago has him ready for the drawn-out process ahead. Pierzynski, who spent the past eight seasons with the White Sox, said unlike 2010, when he eventually returned to the South Siders on a two-year, 8 million deal, knows what to expect.

Its a long process, Pierzynski said. Your mom and aunts and uncles and friends call and say, Hey, you going to sign? You dont have a job yet. Mom, it just started a week ago and nobody signed yet. Its a long process and Ive been through it before, which helps me. The first time I went through it was a nightmare because I was expecting everyday, Where am I going to go? Where am I going to go? Ive learned now to just let it play out and youll end up where youre supposed to end up and itll be the right decision in the end.

With a limited amount of resources and a potential everyday replacement in Tyler Flowers, the White Sox will take a wait-and-see approach with Pierzynski. The veteran catcher hit a career-best 27 home runs last season and is one of the top free-agent options along with Mike Napoli at a premium position.

Rick Hahn said the club is in constant contact with all of its free agents and has said hed like all -- third baseman Kevin Youkilis and pitcher Brett Myers are also available -- to return. But Hahn understands Pierzynski and agent Steve Hilliard would like to explore their options.

Its just one of those things you have to let it play out, Pierzynski said. You cant get too wrapped up in it, too nervous. I speak with my agent every day or every couple days about who he has talked to and you just keep the information, get as informed as you can and let him work.

Asked where hed ideally like to land, Pierzynski acknowledge he loves the White Sox. The Florida-native also mentioned the Tampa Bay Rays. But his dream would be to play for the Atlanta Braves, though Pierzynski acknowledged its not a realistic option because the team recently picked up veteran Brian McCanns 2013 option.

In a perfect situation, if there were no other deciding factors (money, another catcher), my ideal situation would be to play for the Braves, Pierzynski said. I grew up a Braves fan. That would be ideal, but with Brian McCann I dont think its going to happen.

White Sox agree to one-year deals with Brett Lawrie, Avisail Garcia

White Sox agree to one-year deals with Brett Lawrie, Avisail Garcia

Brett Lawrie and Avisail Garcia will both return to the White Sox in 2017.

The team announced it reached deals with both players shortly before Friday’s 7 p.m. CST nontender deadline. Lawrie will earn $3.5 million next season and Garcia received a one-year deal for $3 million.

The club didn’t tender a contract to right-handed pitcher Blake Smith, which leaves its 40-man roster at 38.

Acquired last December for a pair of minor leaguers, Lawrie hit .248/.310/.413 with 12 home runs, 22 doubles and 36 RBIs in 94 games before he suffered a season-ending injury.

Lawrie produced 0.9 f-WAR when he suffered what then-manager Robin Ventura described a “tricky” injury on July 21. Despite numerous tests and a lengthy rehab, Lawrie never returned to the field and was frustrated by the experience. Last month, Lawrie tweeted that he believes the cause of his injury was wearing orthotics for the first time in his career.

He was projected to earn $5.1 million, according to MLBTraderumors.com and earned $4.125 million in 2016.

Garcia hit .245/.307/.385 with 12 homers and 51 RBIs in 453 plate appearances over 120 games. The projected salary for Garcia, arb-eligible for the first time, was $3.4 million.

The team also offered contracts to Miguel Gonzalez and Todd Frazier, who are eligible for free agency in 2018, first baseman Jose Abreu and relievers Dan Jennings, Zach Putnam and Jake Petricka, among others.

The White Sox have until mid-January to reach an agreement with their arbitration-eligible players. If they haven’t, both sides submit figures for arbitration cases, which are then heard throughout February.

White Sox announcer Jason Benetti cracks Crain's 40 under 40

White Sox announcer Jason Benetti cracks Crain's 40 under 40

Crain's Chicago Business released its latest 40 under 40 project and White Sox announcer Jason Benetti made this year's list.

The 33-year-old just finished his first season with the White Sox as play-by-play announcer, working the home games at U.S. Cellular Field (before it was renamed Guaranteed Rate Field last month) alongside Steve Stone as longtime broadcaster Hawk Harrelson saw his workload reduced to mostly road games.

Benetti quickly became a fan favorite among Chicagoans on CSN and other networks in 2016 and his cerebral palsy became more of a backstory, with his work alongside Stone and his affable sense of humor taking center stage instead.

Among other topics, Benetti discussed how he approaches his job of broadcasting for the team he grew up rooting for:

Law school taught me that there are always two sides of the argument. I see it from the Sox prism, but I can’t believe in my heart of hearts that, if the Sox lose, the world’s over anymore. That first game, I was like, “All right, it’s just a game.” And then Avi Garcia hits a homer late in the game against the Indians and I call it like I would call it with a little more. And as the ball cleared the fence, when it was rolling around, I got a slight tear in my eye. And I was like, “What’s that?”

Check out the entire interview with Benetti and the full list at ChicagoBusiness.com.