The Boston #RedSox today acquired 1B/OF Steve Pearce and cash considerations from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for minor league INF Santiago Espinal.— Red Sox (@RedSox) June 29, 2018
The 35-year-old Pearce, who will now have played for every team in the AL East, has enjoyed a very productive 2018 season to date, posting a .291/.349/.519 slash line with four homers in 86 plate appearances. He was sidelined for roughly six weeks with an oblique strain, but he’s been back from the disabled list for four games now and has gone 5 for 13 with a home run over that stretch.
Pearce has played first base, second base, third base, and both corner outfield spots over a 12-year major-league career. He’s been limited to first base, left field, and right field over the past two seasons, presumably because he’s lost range as he’s gotten older. While he may not be as versatile as he once was, he’s consistently been a solid hitter while playing a utility role — he’s a .255/.332/.443 career hitter with 83 homers in 2,291 plate appearances.
Pearce, a right-handed hitter, provides a potential platoon option for left-handed hitting first baseman Mitch Moreland, who has cooled off this month after an extremely hot start. After posting a .932 OPS in March and April and a 1.021 OPS in May, Moreland has hit for a .796 OPS — which is still quite good, but not what he’d been doing before — in June. Pearce is hitting .306/.358/.531 against lefties this year and could perhaps give Moreland an occasional rest in those situations.
For now, Pearce will presumably take the roster spot of 24-year-old Tzu-Wei Lin, who has struggled over two big-league stints this season. If and when Dustin Pedroia — who went on the DL with inflammation in his surgically-repaired left knee after going 1 for 11 with two walks — returns, Boston will have some tough decisions. Utility man Blake Swihart, who has posted a .158/.220/.184 line with no homers over 82 plate appearances, would presumably be at risk of being designated for assignment.
Espinal, who heads to the Blue Jays organization, certainly isn’t the most highly-regarded prospect, as he wasn’t ranked within MLB Pipeline’s top 30 Red Sox prospects list and is still in High-A at 23 years old. The 2016 10th-round pick has enjoyed strong results this season, though, posting a .313/.363/.477 slash line with seven homers in 280 plate appearances and earning a spot in the Carolina League All-Star Game. He’ll presumably in line for a promotion to Double-A sooner than later if he keeps producing at that level.