Orioles first baseman/outfielder Steve Pearce will undergo surgery to repair the flexor mass in his right forearm and will be sidelined anywhere from four to six months as he recovers, manager Buck Showalter told reporters, including Rich Dubroff of CSNMidAtlantic.com (Twitter link). Certainly, as an impending free agent, that timeline is a blow to Pearce’s offseason stock. Assuming that timeline sticks, he won’t be ready until at least late January and could see his recovery linger well into Spring Training.
Viewed through a more immediate lens, Pearce’s injury is a blow to the depth of an Orioles team that is currently in possession of one of the two American League Wild Card spots and still has a chance at the division championship in the American League East (currently three games back from Boston). Pearce was outstanding when healthy this season, hitting .288/.374/.492 with 13 homers and 13 doubles in 302 plate appearances for the Rays and Orioles. Baltimore let Pearce walk this past offseason, electing instead to acquire Mark Trumbo and sign corner bats Pedro Alvarez and Hyun Soo Kim to cost-effective deals. However, the O’s picked Pearce back up in a trade that sent minor league catcher Jonah Heim to the Rays. They’ll ultimately receive just 70 plate appearances and a .217/.329/.400 slash out of their reinvestment in Pearce, though.
Had Pearce finished up the season in healthy fashion, a two-year deal could seemingly have been on the table for him, but it’s difficult now to envision the 33-year-old (34 next April) securing more than a one-year pact — likely one that is laden with incentives — on the open market. If he does make a full recovery, though, Pearce would be a tremendous value on such a deal, as he’s somewhat quietly produced a very strong .266/.348/.485 slash in 1148 plate appearances dating back to the 2013 season.