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Steve Pearce Brings Some Much-Needed Versatility to the Blue Jays Lineup

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The man who once denied a waiver claim from the Toronto Blue Jays has opted to give them a second chance.

In late April of 2014, Steve Pearce was released by the Baltimore Orioles. The Blue Jays put in a claim for Pearce, he graciously refused and became a free agent. A few days later, Pearce re-signed with the Orioles; two days after he was released.

Over two years later, things have come full circle once again for Steve Pearce and the Blue Jays as they agreed upon a two-year/$12.5 million contract.



Steve Pearce joins the Toronto Blue Jays roster as the poor man’s Ben Zobrist. Pearce has played every position on the diamond, save for shortstop, catcher and centre field. But for the Blue Jays, he projects to be a multi-position player, likely at first base and corner outfield.

That position versatility is something which must be highly coveted by the Blue Jays. Pearce has had his fair share of injury troubles over the course of his career; he’s never played more than 102 games in a season and has averaged only 93 games played the past three years.

Even when healthy, I’m not sure that Pearce is the type of player who should be playing beyond 110-115 games a season anyway. With his tendency to tee off on lefties, Steve Pearce profiles like more of a role player or a complimentary piece.

Some are wondering whether the combination of Steve Pearce and Kendrys Morales were signed specifically to replace Edwin Encarnacion. His production would be tough to replicate, so I think the Blue Jays are hedging their bets here by signing multiple free agents.

Much like the Kendrys Morales signing, the Steve Pearce deal doesn’t vault the Toronto Blue Jays into World Series favourites. But what these moves do accomplish – they provide the Blue Jays with that much-needed balance and versatility to their lineup … something which was sorely lacking in 2016.

Considering that the Blue Jays have numerous holes to fill on the roster, it only makes sense that they’d go out and get a multi-positional player like Steve Pearce, who can bounce around the diamond for the Blue Jays.

If the Blue Jays weren’t going to get someone like Sean Rodriguez or Matt Joyce, Steve Pearce was the next logical option. And at $10.5 million total for Pearce, it falls in line with the deals which were inked by Rodriguez ($11.5 million) and Joyce ($11 million).

Rodriguez and Joyce have a bit of a better track record and have less of an injury history, but despite playing less games than his counterparts over the past three years, Pearce has provided much more value to his teams.

NameGPAHRRRBISBBB%K%ISOBABIPAVGOBPSLGwOBAwRC+BsROffDefWAR
Steve Pearce27910104912812469.60%19.70%0.2270.2920.2670.3470.4930.363131136.6-2.17.3
Matt Joyce373107027113115314.10%22.90%0.150.280.2290.3430.3780.32105-1.75.1-24.51.6
Sean Rodriguez3758413410411465.70%27.50%0.2010.3030.2440.3020.4450.322105-3.22.2-14.21.5

 
While Sean Rodriguez and Matt Joyce have meddled as barely-there replacement level players since 2014, Steve Pearce has been worth over seven wins in total the past three seasons.



To put that in perspective, that’s merely one Josh Donaldson season, but Steve Pearce does provide value to the Blue Jays; even if it’s only incremental.

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez “mine” incident. He’ll also retell the story of Game 5 of the ALDS to his kids for the next 20 years.

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