We knew that one of the priorities for the Red Sox this trade season was going to be a right-handed bat, and they acquired one Thursday night immediately after finishing off a sweep of the Angels. According to Chris Cotillo of Masslive, Boston has acquired Steve Pearce from the Blue Jays in exchange for minor-league infielder Santiago Espinal.
Red Sox acquire Steve Pearce from the Blue Jays.— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) June 29, 2018
Alex Speier was first with the news that the Sox were close to a deal.
This is not the sexiest move imaginable, but Pearce is a great fit for what the team needs to strengthen the lineup. He is not going to add any value defensively, but he can fill in at DH, left field and at first base. It’s his bat that brings the value, though, and he is going to be used against left-handed pitching. The 35-year-old has missed some time due to injury this year, but on the year over 86 plate appearances he has hit .291/.349/.519 for a 137 wRC+. He’s never been an everyday player, but he’s put up plenty of strong seasons at the plate over his career. Pearce generally doesn’t post huge BABIPs, but he hits for plenty of power and draws a solid amount of walks to make up for any other deficiencies.
Where he really makes his impact is as a platoon bat. He has only 53 plate appearances against southpaws this year, but he’s been great in them posting a .306/.358/.531 slash line for a 143 wRC+. That’s obviously a small sample, but he’s been doing this for his entire career. Over his 12-year major-league career, he’ slashing .265/.346/.495 for a 127 wRC+ against lefties.
As for how this affects the roster, it’s possible that this could spell the end of the Blake Swihart era, but it’s not something that has to happen. The Red Sox have been sitting on an open 40-man roster spot so they don’t need to expose anyone to waivers to make room for Pearce. The most likely move is Tzu-Wei Lin getting sent back down to Pawtucket and Pearce sliding into that open 40-man spot.
The Red Sox didn’t give up a major prospect in this deal — Pearce is a free agent at the end of the year, so it’s just a rental — but Espinal is not nothing. The infielder was having a strong year at High-A Salem, manning shortstop on most nights and slashing .313/.363/.477. There’s not a huge ceiling here, but there is a real chance at a major-league career as a bench piece in his future.
Overall, this seems like a good move for the Red Sox and one that improves the roster for the second half of the season. They’ll need all the help they can get as they try to win a third straight division championship, and this is a step in the right direction. We’ll have more analysis on how Pearce fits with the roster in the morning.