The Toronto Blue Jays have agreed to a two-year deal with the versatile Steve Pearce, ESPN’s Buster Olney reported Monday.
The deal would pay the right-handed hitter $12.5 million over the next two seasons and provide manager John Gibbons with an option capable of filling in at first base, second base and both corner outfield positions. The deal complicates the first base picture for the Blue Jays, with the return of Edwin Encarnacion still considered unlikely. Justin Smoak’s on a two-year, $8.25-million contract while the Blue Jays appeared to have legitimate interest in Mitch Moreland late Sunday.
Regardless of how the pieces ultimately fit together, Pearce brings a proven ability to hit left-handed pitching, as evidenced by a .852 OPS against southpaws in his career and a 1.028 OPS against them in 2016. The 33-year-old has parts of 10 seasons in the big leagues, the last five of which have come in the AL East. He’s considered a steady if not spectacular defender by some rival evaluators.
His deal falls in line with the contract signed by Sean Rodriguez, another versatile righty bat who caught the Blue Jays’ interest in free agency. Rodriguez obtained a two-year, $11.5-million deal from the Braves earlier this off-season. The Blue Jays had interest in Pearce when he became a free agent in April of 2014, but he returned to Baltimore where he enjoyed a breakout season.
Ben Nicholson-Smith, Sportsnet