The Orioles seem to be perpetually in a state of reuniting with Steve Pearce, which also means that they must be in a perpetual state of parting from Pearce in order to set up the next reunion. On Monday, the latest parting was finalized as Pearce signed a two year, $12.5 million contract with the Toronto Blue Jays.
There’s a poetic bit of book-closing there for the Jays, as you may recall that Pearce turned down a chance to join the Jays in the 2014 season, opting instead to return to Baltimore, where he filled the hole created by a Chris Davis injury, and in the process, posted a .293/.373/.556 batting line that captured our hearts forever.
The latest Pearce campaign with the Orioles wasn’t such a good idea. They brought him back at the last minute at the trade deadline this past season, giving up catching prospect Jonah Heim to the Rays in the process.
The Orioles made this trade even though they later acknowledged that they knew Pearce was hurt - and perhaps they exacerbated that injury by playing Pearce in the outfield, which he hadn’t been doing in Tampa. It’s the kind of bad idea from square one trade that drives people nuts about Dan Duquette.
The Jays have room for Pearce with all three of Michael Saunders, Edwin Encarnacion, and Jose Bautista hitting the free agent market. They have more of an ability to make use of Pearce’s versatility.
Could the Orioles have made use of Pearce in the same way? If they wanted to, maybe. Davis is still pretty locked in at first base, but the O’s could use a lefty-hitting half of a platoon with Hyun Soo Kim in left field. Pearce could spell Davis at first base sometimes or be the designated hitter other times, or just be a late-game pinch hitter.
Given their other needs and the believed ceiling on their payroll for next season, the O’s probably don’t have the $6 million to spare for Pearce or anybody who has Pearce’s skill set. He doesn’t solve their right field problem or their catching problem. And for a right-handed 1B/DH/bench bat option, they may feel like they’ve already got their guy in Trey Mancini for less money.
If Pearce had signed with some team like the Reds or Padres or something, this is where I would wish him good luck, but, since his success will now mean success for an Orioles division rival, I must regretfully offer him nothing but the most sincere wish that he goes zero for the next two years.