Blue Jays trade Steve Pearce to the Boston Red Sox

Late Thursday night, the Blue Jays made a trade with a division rival to send Steve Pearce to Boston in exchange for a young infield prospect.

According to a club announcement, the Boston Red Sox have acquired infielder/outfielder Steve Pearce from the Blue Jays along with cash considerations in exchange for infield prospect Santiago Espinal. The trade was first announced via a club announcement and was later confirmed by Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic.

Pearce, who signed with the Jays last winter, has been effective when healthy, slashing a solid .260/.325/.454 in a Blue Jays uniform despite only appearing in 118 games over the past two seasons. Primarily manning left field, Pearce hit 17 home runs and 23 doubles in 434 plate appearances.

A native of Lakeland, Florida, he is perhaps best known for launching two walk-off grand slams within the span of a week last season, helping the Jays earn victories in an exciting fashion. Recently, he smashed a game-winning home run against the Angels in Anaheim.

In Pearce, the Red Sox are getting a capable utilityman with major league experience – Pearce has played for all five AL East teams in his 11-year career. If he can stay healthy, he can be an excellent bench bat as the Red Sox try and make a deep postseason run this year.

Espinal, 23, is a shortstop prospect who hails from the Dominican Republic. In 280 plate appearances this season at High-A Salem, he’s slashed an outstanding .314/.364/.478 with seven home runs, 15 doubles, and nine stolen bases. He did not appear on Boston’s top 30 prospect list on MLB Pipeline.

According to his scouting report, Espinal makes quality contact, is a plus defender and works deep counts. While this acquisition is somewhat puzzling giving Toronto’s wealth of infield prospects, it still makes sense that they would seek to obtain the best available young player.

Additionally, Espinal’s speed could be an asset to the Jays, seeing as they are severely lacking in that department. He was a 10th round draft pick of the Red Sox in the 2016 MLB June Amateur Draft, the same draft round that saw the picks of Blue Jays prospects Samad Taylor and Kirby Snead.

The Jays are also sending some cash in the deal, presumably to offset the remaining $3-4 million remaining on Pearce’s deal. Pearce’s contract, which he signed on December 5, 2016, was a two-year deal worth $12.5 million. Since coming to the Jays, he’s been worth an estimated  0.5 WAR, according to BaseballReference.

While this deal is relatively minor in magnitude, it can surely be viewed as a signal that things will start to pick up in terms of trades. Several other players on expiring contracts could be heading to contenders as the front office tries to stockpile young talent in preparation of the next few seasons.

At this point, it is difficult to truly assess this deal. With Espinal still incredibly young, it could be years before we can truly consider this a win or a loss for the Toronto Blue Jays. Regardless, this trade should signal things to come.