Some teams believe in their organization and farm systems’ strength to fill the void of a departing free agent or a retiring players. In the case of the New York Yankees (Russell Martin), Atlanta Braves (Chipper Jones), Tampa Bay Rays (B.J. Upton) and the Chicago White Sox (A.J. Pierzynski), it doesn’t look like they’ve been able to fill in the void.
The 36 year old catcher left the Chicago White Sox after eight seasons with the orginization, including winning the World Series in 2005. He signed with the Texas Ranges, but took his silver slugger credentials from last season after hitting a career high 27 home runs and posting a .278/.326/.501/.827 stat line.
The guy the White Sox are turning to is 27 year old Tyler Flowers, who does have the ability to hit for power, but has a career batting average (317) of .205 and a terrible strike out rate , getting himself struck out 33.8% of his plate appearances.
Chipper Jones – After 19 years, the Atlanta Braves venture into a season without Chipper Jones, who was still hitting .287/.377/.455/.832 in his fifth decade. Who will be the one to pick up the pieces? Juan Francisco, a 25 year old from the Dominican Republic who played in 93 games last season has an .806 career OPS against righties, but a .446 OPS against lefties. He doesn’t like someone who can make it an everyday job for him.
B.J. Upton – Upton moved on to the Atlanta Braves, which leaves a lot of questions for the Tampa Bay Rays regarding their lineup. Wil Myers, one of their top prospects, might get the call up, but it’s hard to assume he’ll be good enough to fill in the role of Upton, who hit 28 home runs last season. If Myers is called up, it means Sam Fuld will not longer start next to Desmond Jennings and Matt Joyce, but that still leaves a hole at DH. Ben Zobrist could move to the outfield, putting Joyce at DH, but then what becomes of second base?
Russell Martin – The New York Yankees let go of the catcher who signed on a two year deal worth $15 million with the Pittsburgh Pirates, despite a very strong finish to the season and hitting 39 home runs during his two years with the Yankees. Francisco Cervelli seems like a logical choice to step up after already doing it quite well in the past, but his lack of power will be felt.
Chris Stewart is another option, but he doesn’t hit for power as well while his batting average is lower than Cervelli’s. There are always the prospects in Austin Romine and Gary Sanchez, but both of them seem long shots at the moment to take over the void Russell Martin left in hsi departure.