There is an on again, off again Orioles utilityman that has departed from Baltimore once again.
Steve Pearce has left Baltimore to sign with the Toronto Blue Jays for a two-year/$12.5M deal, the Blue Jays announced on Monday.
“The offense in this division, the teammate and the versatility from a defensive standpoint,” said Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins when he was asked what interested Toronto in Pearce.
“How he’ll be used, that’s one of the things that excites us, is that we don’t have to decide that today. We can see how the rest of our roster takes shape, but I think more than likely it’s at first base and left field, or a corner outfield.”
Pearce batted .288/.374/.492 with 13 home runs and 35 RBI in 302 plate appearances last season between Tampa Bay and Baltimore. Pearce’s season fell into a black hole when he returned to Baltimore, batting .217/.329/.400 with three homers and six RBI. The 33-year old journeyman, was traded to the Orioles in August for minor league catcher Jonah Heim. He also had to receive surgery on his forearm in September, which would put him out for six months.
Pearce’s had his best year in 2014 with the Orioles, helping them win a division title. He batted .293/.373/.556 with 21 homers and 49 RBI. He will most likely take the spot of free agent outfielder Jose Bautista, who will most likely move on in free agency from Toronto. Free agent first baseman/designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion is also a free agent. The Jays have replaced Encarnacion’s bat by signing designated hitter Kendrys Morales.
This was a no-brainer to let Pearce walk once again. He just didn’t produce last season and Baltimore needed to change its identity. Pearce doesn’t bring any speed to the table (0 stolen bases in 2016) and his fielding skills are just okay at best. With a declining bat and an injury, there are no guarantees that Pearce will return to form.