Blue Jays rumours: Interest in Pearce as part of possible 1B platoon

The Toronto Blue Jays still have room to add to their 1B/DH position following the signing of Kendrys Morales on Friday

According to a report today from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, the Toronto Blue Jays have interest in the versatile free agent Steve Pearce.

Pearce split the 2016 season between the Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles, batting .288 with an impressive .374 on-base percentage and 13 home runs. He earned $4.75 million last season on a one-year free agent deal.

His 2015 season was not as strong, but in 2014, Pearce broke out with a .930 OPS after spending much of his career as a reserve player. Hitting left-handed pitching has been Pearce’s calling card recently, which is an area where he’s one of the MLB’s best.

In 2016, Pearce posted a 1.028 OPS against left-handed pitching. Those splits were reversed in his down 2015 season, but his OPS was 1.109 against lefties in 2014. Pearce has his limitations, but when deployed properly, can be a significant asset to a lineup.

Rosenthal suggests Pearce as a possible platoon-mate for Justin Smoak at first base following the free agent signing of Kendrys Morales. There’s a strong case to be made that Pearce could match Smoak’s numbers against right-handers, too. Instead, Pearce’s greatest value may come in his flexibility.

Pearce saw time at every position other that catcher, shortstop, and centre-field in 2016 with the Rays and Orioles. If it were not for Morales being entrenched at DH, Pearce could move around the field to spell off Toronto’s regulars and maximize roster flexibility. In the current makeup, however, Pearce would be likelier to keep a “regular” position.

While Pearce does not match the big-name draw of an Edwin Encarnacion or Jose Bautista, the regime of Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro have valued MLB-level depth in many of their moves over the past calendar year.

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