It’s an interesting situation to see Steve Pearce, who is sought after by the New York Mets and Toronto Blue Jays, receiving interest from the Tampa Bay Rays as well. The Rays traded Pearce last season to the Baltimore Orioles, the team he played for before joining Tampa.
Pearce had a strong few months with the Rays before playing through a forearm injury in Baltimore and not putting up the same kind of numbers. In Tampa, Pearce batted .309 with 10 home runs and posted a .908 OPS. Since breaking out in 2013, he’s batted .266 with a .833 OPS and hitting 53 home runs. He struggled in 25 games with the Orioles last season (his third stint with the team), batting just .217 before going to surgery in September to deal with his forearm injury.
Despite the rough end to the season, Pearce has plenty of demand around the league. Anyone with a need for a right handed hitter who can play all the positions at the infield is looking into him, believing last year’s Baltimore drop was a one-time thing. While he’s going to be making more than the $4.75 million he made in 2016, but it’s hard to see him getting more than a two-year, $12 million deal. Pearce might be a late bloomer, but he’ll be turning 34 at the beginning of next season, and he hasn’t had that great of a last few years to command a bigger deal.
The Rays might be the best place for him considering how well he’s played for him, and the role specificity he has there. Brad Miller is a lefty and has problems against lefty pitchers. Pearce has a .270 average against left-handed pitchers with a .500 slugging number. Platooning the two of them at first base and DH sounds like a pretty good idea, and the only reason the Rays did trade him last season was because they weren’t going anywhere, and it managed to land them a minor leaguer player in return.
Whether or not it’ll be in Tampa, Pearce is getting a multiyear deal from someone as long as he doesn’t drag it out for too long. Players his age with a little bit of injury concern better finish business quickly, or they’ll be left chasing a one-year deal that’s far less what they could have made had they signed a contract before December.