ATLANTA — Veteran catcher A.J. Pierzynski will return for another season with the Atlanta Braves after agreeing to a $3 million, one-year contract.
The 38-year-old Pierzynski was a rare bright spot for the Braves this past season. Signed to serve mainly as a backup, he wound up handling the bulk of the catching duties, hitting .300 with nine homers and 49 RBIs in 113 games.
A two-time All-Star, Pierzynski has played at least 100 games each of the last 15 seasons. He could be in for another heavy workload if Christian Bethancourt continues to struggle.
Bethancourt was supposed to take over the starting duties but wound up spending most of the year in the minors. He batted .200 with two homers and 12 RBIs in 48 games for Atlanta.
Pierzynski gets a $1 million signing bonus, payable Dec. 1, and a $2 million salary. He can earn $1 million in performance bonuses based on starts at catcher: $50,000 each for 55 and 60; $100,000 apiece for 65 and each additional five through 90; and $150,000 each for 95 and 100.
It was a busy Thursday for the Braves, who also traded Gold Glove shortstop Andrelton Simmons to the Los Angeles Angels for shortstop Erick Aybar and top pitching prospects Sean Newcomb and Chris Ellis. Atlanta received $2.5 million, while the Angels got minor league catcher Jose Briceno in the deal.