The Texas Rangers announced today that the club has signed free agent catcher A.J. Pierzynski to a one-year contract for the 2013 season. Financial terms were not disclosed, per club policy.
To make room for Pierzynski on the major league roster, catcher Luis Martinez has been designated for assignment.
Pierzynski, who turns 36 on December 30, has spent the last 8 seasons with the Chicago White Sox. The two-time All-Star was honored with his first Silver Slugger Award in 2012 after batting .278 with career highs in home runs (27), slugging (.501), OPS (.827), runs (68), walks (28), and RBI (77-tied). He has played at least 125 games for 11 straight years and ranked among American League catchers last season in innings caught (2nd, 1071.1), starts (121), and games (126).
The left-handed batter hit 26 of his 27 home runs in 2012 as a catcher, most among American League backstops and 2nd-most in the majors behind only Colorado’s Wilin Rosario (27). He caught 19 of 76 (20.0%) runners attempting to steal last season, high best percentage since 2005 (20.2%).
Pierzynski has played in the postseason four times, posting a career .300 (30-100) average with 5 home runs and 17 RBI in 30 games. He started every postseason game in the White Sox’ 2005 World Series championship run, a club that went 11-1 with a 2.55 ERA (32 ER/113.0 IP) in the playoffs.
Pierzynski is a career .284 hitter in 1629 games with Minnesota (1998-2003), San Francisco (2004), and Chicago-AL (2005-12). He leads all active players with 1559 games as a catcher. In 2005-06, Pierzynski set an American League record with 962 consecutive errorless chances behind the plate, surpassing Yogi Berra’s mark from 1957-59. He has caught 2 no-hitters in his career, including Philip Humber’s perfect game on April 21 at Seattle.
Martinez was 2-for-18 in 10 games over 2 stints with the Rangers in 2012 and batted .270 with 2 homers and 22 RBI in 65 games at Round Rock (AAA). He was acquired from San Diego in December 2011. The Rangers have to 10 days to trade, release, or outright Martinez to the minor leagues.
With today’s moves, the Rangers’ major league roster remains at the 40-man limit.