When the news came down of Steve Pearce's DFA to make room for T.J. McFarland, it wasn't exactly surprising, what with the facts that Pearce had all of seven plate appearances to start the year, and basically filled the same role on the club as Nelson Cruz and Delmon Young were already covering. In fact, to many folks it was surprising that Pearce made the club to start with, assuming that Pearce and Young were battling for the same slot, and that the last bench spot would go to a more versatile defender or potential pinch runner.
The Orioles' season will not hinge on the loss of Steve Pearce, of course. You can call Pearce lots of things -- replacement level (0.5 career WAR in parts of eight seasons), AAAA fringe major-leaguer -- but you can't call him a difference maker. Guys like Pearce can be nice to have around, but they're not hard to come by, either. If a club needs a passable defender who can really only play corner outfield and first base, and specializes in hitting pitchers of a certain handedness, well, they're out there. Some other club will snag Steve Pearce from the Orioles, and if the Orioles lose Delmon Young, they'll find another guy just like Pearce (or, hell, maybe bring Pearce back for a third separate Orioles tenure).
But I like Steve Pearce. This isn't really a rational thing -- Pearce has played in a whopping 65 games in his two Orioles stints, to a so-so line of .254/.276/.421 and 0.8 WAR. He didn't have a ton of big moments, even on the magical 2012 team where it seemed like a different guy was making the magic happen every night. His personality never took center stage, either. But not taking center stage is kind of the tao of Steve (Pearce), isn't it?
Go try to find anything exceptionally negative or positive about Steve Pearce online. I dare you. I'll wait here. Didn't find much, did you? I found this piece from Pearce's first callup about how he called his brother when he first broke into the majors, and this one where I learned that Pearce can beat J.J. Hardy at ping-pong, likes relaxing and playing golf, and would first rescue his phone if there was a fire and his family was already safe.
This is a guy who's kicked around five major league teams in seven separate stints, and you never hear him saying a word about it. He's either the kind of guy who loves the game, and feels lucky to get paid well to play it a little bit (which I choose to believe), or he's smart enough to never let anyone outside the clubhouse know otherwise.
There will always be work for a guy like Steve Pearce, even if most of that work is simply being on a roster and being available to fill in for an injured player or make a spot start against a left-handed pitcher. And by all appearances, he probably loves that work, or doesn't even think of it as work, even if he's constantly being shipped around the country. How can you not like a guy like that, at least a little bit? Maybe this is the end of Steve Pearce, Baltimore Oriole. Maybe he'll be back for a third spin. I doubt I'll think much of Pearce in even a few years, but I won't think badly of him at all. Fare thee well, Steve. Land on your feet, even if it's in someone else's dugout.