On Tuesday, it was revealed that the Cleveland Indians were interested in acquiring utility man Eduardo Nunez from the Minnesota Twins. Now on Wednesday, reports circulated that the club was interested in trading for Tampa Bay Rays utility man Steve Pearce, this according to The New York Post's Joel Sherman.
When he is actually playing in 2016, the 33-year-old has been lighting it up at the plate. He owns a .313/.386/.530 split, which are all by far and away his career highs. Pearce also has 11 doubles, 10 home runs, and 29 RBIs in 198 at-bats (57 games). As a right-handed batter, he has dominated lefty pitching so far this season, with a .377/.476/.736 split, four doubles, five home runs, and 16 RBIs in 53 at-bats against left-handed pitchers so far in 2016. The biggest problem he has had in 2016 is a nagging hamstring injury that has caused him to only play in 57 games thus far.
While this season has by far been Pearce's best, in his career he has a .256/.333/.443 split with 94 doubles, 63 home runs, and 209 RBIs in 1,573 at-bats in 10 seasons that include playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates (five seasons), Baltimore Orioles (four), Houston Astros (one), New York Yankees (one), and Rays (one). In his 10-year career in the majors, the righty has a .273/.356/.505 split with 42 doubles, 29 home runs, and 97 RBIs in 575 at-bats against lefties.
That Pearce has killed lefties so far in 2016 is very intriguing, especially since the Indians are looking for a right-handed bat to relieve Abraham Almonte from his not-so-good season. Helping matters is that Pearce can play all over the field. This season alone, he has played first (26 games), second (14), and third (two), but in his career, he has also played in left and right field as well. If they were to acquire Pearce, the club could then move Jose Ramirez to be an every day third baseman rather than a utility man with Juan Uribe struggling tremendously as of late. With Tyler Naquin and Lonnie Chisenhall able to do their job against right-handed pitching, a platoon with Pearce would be a perfect fit.
Although he will be a free agent following this season, Pearce is owed just $4.75 million in 2016. If he can stay healthy, he would be a great get for the Indians, if he can be had for the right price. Considering he is a free agent following this season, it likely won't take too much to nab him from Tampa Bay.
We already know how much manager Terry Francona loves his utility men, but a right-hander that can play in the outfield and dominates left-handed pitching? That seems right up Tito's alley.