White Sox continue to talk to Pierzynski

White Sox continue to talk to Pierzynski
December 5, 2012, 2:45 am
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Though it appeared unlikely not long ago, the White Sox have continued their pursuit of A.J. Pierzynski, according to a baseball source.
On Tuesday, one day after White Sox general manager Rick Hahn went out of his way several times to say the club hasnt ruled out Pierzynskis return, and amid swirling New York Yankees rumors, a baseball source confirmed the two sides continue to have dialogue.
The events of the last two days are in stark contrast to early November, when all signs appeared to point to Pierzynskis departure after eight seasons on the South Side. After all, the White Sox had several needs and limited funds; the veteran is due a raise after hitting a career-high 27 home runs last season; the club has a viable replacement in Tyler Flowers and also appeared to be inclined to solve their other issues first.
Though Hahn has stated all along hes interested in Pierzynski returning, he also has thoroughly backed Flowers as a potential replacement.
The White Sox are high on Flowers game-calling abilities coupled with his receiving skills and arm. Though he at times struggled at the plate last season, the team also believes Flowers is capable of 20-home run power and all at a bargain price compared with Pierzynski, who earned 6 million last season and made it clear he wants a market-value deal.
Over the last few days, Mike Napoli signed a three-year, 39 million contract with the Boston Red Sox and Russell Martin received 17 million over two seasons from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Sources made it sound as if the White Sox were OK with the prospect of handing Flowers the reins and letting Pierzynski leave because of expected high prices.
But the White Sox position may have shifted recently for several reasons.
One prominent issue is the team would almost certainly need to find a left-handed bat to replace Pierzynski were he to leave. While Hahn has said he doesnt believe it to be a fatal flaw, the White Sox lineup would be down to Adam Dunn and Alejandro De Aza as their only regular left-handed hitters if Pierzynski left.
Hahn has also noted the team would weigh the cost of signing or trading for a third baseman versus their own internal options. On Tuesday, Hahn and manager Robin Ventura said they wouldnt rule out the chance of Brent Morel making the team were he healthy. Morel -- who eight homers and had 19 RBIs in 27 games in September 2011 -- missed most of the 2012 season with a back injury, but the team believes hes on the road to recovery.
Another significant issue is Hahn doesnt sound like he wants to break up the White Sox pitching depth to solve their issues. Even though Gavin Floyds name has been mentioned consistently among trade rumors, the White Sox would likely need to bring in another arm were they to move Floyd, whose 9.5 million salary next season is a bargain. The White Sox would likely need to spend more money than theyd like to find a pitcher capable of providing them 200 innings.
Floyds durability -- he has made at least 29 starts in each of the last six seasons -- could also prove important for several other reasons. Jake Peavys 219 innings were his most since he had 173 23 in 2008. Chris Sale and Jose Quintana each eclipsed career highs for innings in 2012. And though indications are John Danks is well on the road to recovery, hes still coming off an August shoulder surgery.
While recent developments appear to be a 180-degree shift, none of it should come as a surprise, either.
Last month, Hahn refused to handicap the situation because of the sentiment factor. Last time Pierzynski was a free agent before the 2010 season, owner Jerry Reinsdorf stepped in at the last minute to ensure the catcher stayed in town.
Pierzynski, who likely is looking at his final contract, has also spent eight years with the White Sox. Hes comfortable in the clubhouse and is loved by fans for helping to bring Chicago its only World Series title in the last 95 years.
So while chances once appeared remote, and another source suggests they may still be, the possibility of Pierzynskis return to the South Side next season still exists.