Blue Jays: Five First Base Options If Justin Smoak Struggles

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - AUGUST 24: First baseman Justin Smoak
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - AUGUST 24: First baseman Justin Smoak /
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TORONTO, ON – AUGUST 15: Steve Pearce
TORONTO, ON – AUGUST 15: Steve Pearce /

Steve Pearce – Constant Force

Another disappointing new Blue Jay in 2017, Steve Pearce failed to remain healthy and consistent in his debut season north of the border. While historically an undeviating offensive asset, Pearce struggled in 2017, slashing .252/.319/.438 in just 92 games, mostly in left field. He stumbled out of the gate, hitting .167 in April appearing in 17 games.

Pearce, unlike Solarte, has played roughly half of his major league innings at first. In 222 total games, he’s committed 10 errors, playing to a 9.5 UZR since his debut with the Pirates in 2007. His arm is also quite strong, seeing as he’s played the other half of his games in the outfield. For his career, he’s been considered an average defensive player, with most of his value coming from his bat.

If Pearce can stay healthy, there’s no reason to believe he can’t replicate his past success in Tampa Bay and Baltimore. He was initially slated to platoon with Smoak before the latter’s incredible comeback season. Pearce could still be a worthy platoon partner if the coaching staff decides to let Smoak play through his hypothetical struggles. His history of punishing right-handed pitching perfectly complement Smoak, who’s routinely hit lefties more effectively than righties.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t continue to emphasize the importance of Pearce’s current presence on the roster, meaning once again that no additional roster spot would be needed to make room for the Lakeland native. Of all the options mentioned above, he makes by far the most sense.