Last year's backup David Ross figures to split time at the position with Pierzynski after starting four of the team's six World Series games, including the final three. Meanwhile, minor leaguers Dan Butler and Christian Vazquez are continuing to develop, and both offer strong defensive potential at the position. That leaves 26-year-old Ryan Lavarnway on the bubble entering the 2014 season.
Speaking at the Red Sox's annual "Christmas at Fenway" event on Saturday, Lavarnway shared his thoughts on the team's signing of Pierzynski.
"A.J.'s a good player," Lavarnway said. "He's been pretty established, he's had a lot of success at the plate and behind it. We want to win."
Lavarnway made his major league debut after a strong 2011 season with Triple-A Pawtucket that saw him hit .295 with 18 home runs. For Boston, he went 7-for-22 in six starts behind the plate before being sent back down until September, when he made three more starts at catcher, including the team's final game of the season that saw the Red Sox forfeit their postseason spot to the Tampa Bay Rays.
Since then, Lavarnway has started each season by being optioned to the minors, the result of Jarrod Saltalamacchia's blossoming into a full-time starter and the signings of free agents Kelly Shoppach in 2012 and Ross in 2013 as backups.
Following the trade of Shoppach to the New York Mets in August 2012, Lavarnway became Saltalamacchia's backup before being handed the starting position by manager Bobby Valentine, who shifted Saltalamacchia over to first base. Lavarnway struggled in the role, hitting .157 and allowing 25 stolen bases in 25 starts.
After Ross suffered a concussion that landed him on the disabled list May 12 of last season, Lavarnway was recalled once again to serve as a backup, making only 18 starts behind the plate and hitting .299. Now, with Pierzynski in tow, Lavarnway has yet to have been told what the plan for him is next season.
"I haven't had any conversations with [general manager Ben Cherington] about that so I don't know," Lavarnway said. "I'm excited to defend the world championship next year. I don't know what else I can tell you."
Lavarnway looks to be third on Boston's catching depth chart heading into spring training with Butler, Vazquez and top prospect Blake Swihart behind him.
Known for his offense, Lavarnway is a career .282 hitter across five minor league seasons compared to a .208 hitter in his major league stints. He has one option remaining on his contract.