Just before the 4:00 pm eastern time trade deadline on Monday, the Orioles made another move in an effort to improve their roster.
The player the Orioles received in a trade with the Tamps Bay Rays is a familiar face in Baltimore – infielder / outfielder Steve Pearce.
Pearce, 33, has played for the Orioles for a portion of each of the past four seasons dating back to 2012. In that span, Pearce has gone from the Orioles to Houston, to the Yankees, back to Baltimore, to Tampa, and now back to the Orioles once again. Pearce signed a one year, $4.75 million deal with Tampa in the winter. In his multiple stints with the Orioles, he has spent time in Single A+ Frederick, Double A Bowie, and a combined 266 games with Baltimore’s major league ball club.
In his time with Baltimore, Pearce has been used all over the infield and in the corner outfield positions. Many fans still remember how Pearce filled in admirably for Chris Davis at first base in late 2014 after Davis was handed a 25-game suspension for using adderall. 2014 was a career year for Pearce, who joined the Orioles midway through their division-winning 2014 campaign. Pearce posted career-highs in batting average (.293), on-base percentage (.373), home runs (21), and RBI’s (49).
So far this season with Tamps Bay, Pearce is batting .309 with 63 hits, 10 home runs and 29 RBI’s in 204 plate appearances. Pearce missed a month with a hamstring injury in late June and early July. He was re-activated off of the disabled list on July 19, and hit is 10th home run of the season in his first game back off of the DL.
For Pearce, the Orioles gave Tampa Bay catcher Jonah Heim, who had been playing at Frederick. The Orioles have a lot of catchers in their farm system, so losing Heim is not seen by most as a major loss.
Given the Orioles’ current lineup situation, look for Buck Showalter to use Pearce mainly in the outfield against left-handed pitching. Pearce is a .377 hitter against lefties this season. Pearce will be a big help to the Orioles’ outfield with Joey Rickard on the disabled list with a thumb injury. Rickard is not expected to be back at any time soon, so Pearce can be used in the corner outfield, splitting time with Mark Trumbo, Hyun-Soo Kim, and Nolan Reimold.
Pearce has played first & second base for the Orioles before, but the Orioles have set starters at both of those positions in Chris Davis and Jonathan Schoop. Trumbo is also capable of playing first base. However, given Davis’ recent slump, the Pearce signing gives Showalter another potential infielder to make a start at first base if Davis or Schoop needs a day off.
After Baltimore traded for starting pitcher Wade Miley on Sunday, many Orioles fans were clamoring for the ball club to add a lefty reliever. However, bringing back Pearce gives the Orioles more depth in both the infield and outfield, as well as yet another power bat.
Pearce has been a fan-favorite in Baltimore who has grown accustomed to playing at Camden Yards and in the American League East. Not only that, but he was also a part of the Orioles’ 2014 postseason run, which could bode well for the younger players on this roster as Baltimore gets ready for the pennant race to the postseason.