The Toronto Blue Jays have signed free agent slugger Steve Pearce to a two-year, $12.5 million deal. News of the deal broke early on Monday.
Sources: The Jays and Steve Pearce agree to a two-year, $12.5 million deal.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 5, 2016
Toronto Blue Jays, Steve Pearce Agree to Deal
Pearce hit .288 with 13 home runs, 35 RBI and an .867 OPS in 85 games last year. After beginning the 2016 season with the Tampa Bay Rays, he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles in August; Pearce previously played for Baltimore from 2012-2015.
Pearce has been a role player for the majority of his career. His career best season came back in 2014 with Baltimore, when he hit a career-high 21 home runs with a .930 OPS in 102 games. Pearce can play anywhere on the field, though he spends most of his time playing first base and the corner outfield positions, as well as designated hitter.
Pearce kills left-handed pitching, posting an .852 career OPS against southpaws, including an 1.028 OPS in 2016. He also has a great deal of familiarity with the American League East, having played with the New York Yankees, Rays and Orioles during his career.
Pearce’s signing, along with Toronto’s signing of Kendrys Morales on November 18, probably signals the end of Edwin Encarnacion‘s career with the Blue Jays. Encarnacion, a Blue Jay since 2009, was a three-time All-Star with Toronto, averaging 39 home runs per season over the past five seasons. Recent reports suggest the Blue Jays are backing out of the Encarnacion sweepstakes.
In all likelihood, Pearce will mostly play first base for Toronto, platooning with returning first baseman Justin Smoak. While having to replace the production of Encarnacion, and possibly free-agent outfielder Jose Bautista, will prove difficult, Pearce is a viable slugger in a lineup of sluggers and should fit in nicely north of the border.