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Rays trade rumors: Steve Pearce a likely trade target

With Eduardo Nunez off the board, everybody moves up a notch.

Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

After several weeks of screaming at the night sky, baseball fans are waking up to find actual trades occurring. When the Twins’ veteran infielder Eduardo Nunez was sent to San Francisco for lefty pitcher and top 100 prospect Adalberto Mejia this week, the market thinned a bit, leaving an opening in the infield realm for the Rays and one of their assets, Steve Pearce.

Among players with at least 150 AB for the Rays this year, Pearce leads the team in BA (.312), OBP (.384) and is second in SLG to Evan Longoria (.528). He’s also on a one-year deal worth just under $5 million, making him a somewhat easy player to acquire for a contender.

But sometimes, players don’t want to be traded; or at least, say they don’t want to be traded. The idea of climbing twenty or so games from a stalled squad well out of contention to a division-leader seems like a no-brainer, but occasionally you’ll have a guy who still feels like he only just unpacked. Jeremy Hellickson had only nice things to say about the Phillies, despite being one of the deadline’s hottest commodities, and the 33-year-old Pearce seems quite at home with the Rays.

But Pearce, a Lakeland native who joined the Rays on a one-year, $4.75 million deal, doesn't want to go anywhere.

"I hope not," Pearce said. "I like this team a lot. I have fun every day when I come here. … There's no way our team is as bad as our record reflects. We have a really good team. I believe we still have a good team. We're going to have a good team in the future. And I hope I stay."

It could be the Indians who pick up Pearce to play a utility role, after missing out on Nunez, who had been hitting .296 with a .764 OPS, an AL-leading 27 SB, and his first ever All-Star appearance this month.

Cleveland has been tied to several big names this month, including Jonathan Lucroy, Jay Bruce, and reliever Will Smith.