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Pierzynski to return to Braves on 1-year deal

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- The Braves feared that the success A.J. Pierzynski had in 2015 would lead him to agree to a more-lucrative deal elsewhere. But before seeing how high his price might go, Pierzynski signed a one-year deal on Thursday to remain with Atlanta.

Pierzynski certainly proved to be a bargain for the Braves this past season, as he made approximately $2.7 million while hitting .300 with nine home runs and a .769 OPS. The 38-year-old veteran served as the Braves' starting catcher in 104 games.

There is obviously some reason to wonder whether this past season's heavy workload could have a negative effect on his production next year. But for now, the Braves are planning for Pierzynski to split time with Christian Bethancourt. If the Braves are able to trade Bethancourt, there is a chance they still could continue to pursue free-agent catcher Chris Iannetta.

Pierzynski entered this past season targeted to serve as Atlanta's backup, but he replaced Bethancourt as the starter less than two weeks into the season.

Pierzynski seemed to thoroughly enjoy his chance to play for the Braves, the team that he followed throughout his childhood. Spring Training provided him a short commute from the Orlando-area neighborhood he shares with Braves president of baseball operations John Hart.

Though Pierzynski has been described as a polarizing figure throughout his career, his no-nonsense leadership skills provided definite value in the Braves' clubhouse. Matt Wisler and Mike Foltynewicz were among the young pitchers who expressed their appreciation for having a chance to work with Pierzynski.

Pierzynski is a veteran of 18 Major League seasons (with the Twins, Giants, White Sox, Rangers, Red Sox, Cardinals and Braves). He is a career .282 hitter with 186 home runs and 886 RBIs, and is the active leader in games caught with 1,872, which is 11th on the all-time list.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for
Read More: Atlanta Braves, A.J. Pierzynski