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March 24, 2014

Red Sox have oodles of catching depth behind Pierzynski

New Red Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski, according to popular perception, won’t be an offensive upgrade over Jarrod Saltalamacchia but should provide an improvement defensively.

Saltalamacchia loved Boston and he wanted to stay And the Red Sox certainly wouldn’t have strapped themselves by signing Saltalamacchia, who inked a three-year, $21-million deal with the Miami Marlins in free agency.

So why did the Red Sox choose the 37-year-old Pierzynski over the 28-year-old Saltalamacchia and what should we expect from the new Sox catcher in his first and probably only year here in Boston?

GM Ben Cherington loves the depth and talent he has at the catching position in the minor leagues — and he should.

The Red Sox have defensive wiz Christian Vazquez who will begin 2014 with Triple-A Pawtucket. Vazquez probably is the single biggest reason the Red Sox did not bring back Saltalamacchia and is the odds-on favorite to be Boston’s 2015 Opening Day catcher.

Why re-sign Saltalamacchia for three years when the future longterm solution is believed to be only one year away?

Instead, Cherington added Pierzynski, an adequate replacement for Saltalamacchia, on a one-year deal. Pierzynski essentially is a stopgap (a bridge) to next year.

Vazquez has a cannon for an arm and also showed vast improvement offensively last summer. He was 5 for 10 with a homer, three RBIs and two walks in Red Sox big league camp this spring before being optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket.

Red Sox director of player development Ben Crockett said last year about Vazquez, “His quick feet and release allow his arm strength to play as effectively as it does, as well as allowing him to be an above average blocker.”

Don’t be surprised if Vazquez, especially if he plays well early in Pawtucket, earns a promotion to Boston instead of Ryan Lavarnway if either Pierzynski or David Ross suffers an injury and lands on the DL this summer.

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