The last of the Steves has officially departed Baltimore. Free agent Steve Pearce is now a free agent no longer, because he's agreed on a one year contract with the Tampa Bay Rays. The deal is complete, pending a physical, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The terms of the deal are not yet known, but it's safe to guess this is not going to be some huge expenditure on the part of the Rays.
Pearce was kind of the forgotten Orioles free agent this offseason, probably because his performance slipped in 2015. He followed up the fantastic story of his 2014 campaign by posting a .218/.289/.422 batting line this past season. That's a one year wonder, but gosh, what a year it was.
Might Pearce have still been a potential help for the 2016 O's? You can see that if you squint, sure. After all, in that magical 2014 season, he posted a 1.109 OPS against left-handed pitching. The 2015 O's were terrible against lefties, though Pearce himself didn't help with that very much, as his batting line against lefties slipped to a horrendous .196/.266/.357.
The 2016 O's could still use another answer against lefty pitchers. The best version of Pearce may have been an answer, but who knows if the best version of Pearce is still out there. It's not the Orioles problem now. Although in October one might have contemplated a worst case scenario where Pearce was the only O's free agent to return, in reality it doesn't seem the O's were ever too interested in bringing him back. That was sealed even more when they acquired Mark Trumbo, who will probably fill the same niche on the team that Pearce might have.
The signing makes sense for the Rays and for Pearce. You may recall that Pearce has always hit well in the Trop, and he's also from nearby Lakeland. He gets to play close to home in a place he has performed well. We should all be so lucky.