Steve Pearce has drawn interest from the Blue Jays dating back to at least 2014
The Toronto Blue Jays have signed free agent Steve Pearce to a two-year, $12.5 million contract according to Buster Olney
Pearce comes with ability to play multiple positions on the diamond and has enjoyed a recent flourish in his career on the back of some very impressive splits against left-handed pitching.
Olney has been on this story all morning. His original reports from earlier:
9:00 AM: More recently, Olney tweeted out that following that suggests talks between the two sides had begun to intensify.
Toronto’s interest in Pearce certainly lines up more clearly than their reported interest in former Texas Rangers first-baseman Mitch Moreland, which continues to make the rounds at the MLB winter meetings in Maryland.
The Blue Jays can now comfortably move Pearce between first base, second base, and both corner outfield spots (he’s also seen some limited time at third). Given his platoon splits, this gives manager John Gibbons a weapon to creatively mix into his lineup on a nightly basis.
As Olney noted prior to the deal, one of the primary appeals of Pearce is that he doesn’t require a long-term deal. In signing him to this reported two-year pact, the Blue Jays may fully avoid committing long-term to someone like Edwin Encarnacion that could later weigh heavily on their roster.
In 2016, which was shortened to 85 games between the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays, Pearce hit .288 with a .374 on-base percentage and an .867 OPS. He flashed that late-blooming power with another 13 home runs, and in a full-time role has the potential to top 20.
While Pearce’s splits are strong against lefties, they aren’t necessarily poor against right-handed pitching with a career OPS of .728. If that’s something that Pearce could sustain, it’s easier for the Blue Jays to view him as an everyday player.