Red Sox acquire OF Pearce from Blue Jays
BOSTON -- Trade season officially started for the Red Sox on Thursday night, when president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski reeled in veteran right-handed hitter Steve Pearce and cash considerations from the Blue Jays in exchange for Minor League infielder Santiago Espinal.
Pearce was added the Red Sox's roster on Friday and infielder Tzu-Wei Lin was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket.
Dombrowski had been searching for a while for a right-handed bat to help improve his team's performance against left-handed pitching.
Pearce plays the outfield and first base, which will make him a good fit for a team that has a left-handed-hitting starter at first base in Mitch Moreland and two lefty swingers in the outfield in Jackie Bradley Jr. and Andrew Benintendi.
"We're happy to have Steven join us," said Dombrowski. "He's a proven Major League player. Very quality right-handed hitter. Hits left-handed pitching very well. The type of guy we've been trying to add to the lineup vs. left-handers. I'm sure he'll join us at some point this weekend. We've played phone tag so far."
The 35-year-old Pearce hit .291 with six doubles, four home runs and 16 RBIs in 26 games for Toronto this year. He has an .868 OPS and is slugging .519, with 10 of his 23 hits going for extra bases. Against lefties, he is hitting .306 this season. He has a .940 OPS against lefties in his career.
"He was out for an extended time this year with an oblique [injury]. He's come back from that, and hit very well," said Dombrowski. "So he's a threat to drive in runs, drive the ball out of the ballpark. A key cog for us against certain left-handed pitching. And he can hit right-handers, too, I mean, don't take that away from him, but that's going to be the role we were looking for."
Manager Alex Cora looks forward to adding Pearce to an already strong roster that leads the Yankees by one game in the American League East.
Once Pearce suits up for the Red Sox, he will have played for every AL East team. He has also played for the Pirates and Astros.
"Everybody knows that he hits left-handed pitching. He knows the division, obviously," said Cora. "He's a good player, and he's swinging the bat well. It gives us an option against lefties. He can play first, he can play the outfield, he can DH. He can come off the bench, he's done it before, and pinch-hit. It's one more weapon that we have. We got better. We got better tonight."
Now that Dombrowski has his right-handed bat, setup relief will likely be his key area of emphasis between now and the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.