Steve Pearce Rumors

Quick Hits: Pearce, Choo, Gibbons

United States authorities are interviewing Cuban ballplayers as part of an investigation into smuggling rings, reports ESPN The Magazine’s Scott Eden. Driven by dramatic stories as well as high-profile success on the field, attention has increasingly focused on the issue of human trafficking of players hoping to reach Major League Baseball.

Here are some more notes to round out the evening:

  • The Orioles‘ run to take the AL East has a lot of plausible explanations, but one of them is as straightforward as it is surprising, writes Mike Petriello of Fangraphs. Steve Pearce has had perhaps the most unexpected four-plus win season in history, largely making up for the downturn of Chris Davis. Even better, he cost the team virtually nothing to acquire. It remains to be seen whether he’ll carry much value into next year, but Baltimore will surely pay him a much-deserved raise through arbitration to find out. Pearce entered the year with over four years of service time, meaning that he has just one year of team control remaining. His 17 home runs and .907 OPS will set him up nicely for an arb payday, though he has logged under 400 plate appearances (still easily a career high) and does not have a large base point to work from.
  • Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo will undergo surgery on his troublesome left ankle, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports on Twitter. It will be up to two months before he can begin to run, but that should still give him plenty of time to prepare for the spring. Of course, Texas will hope that a healthy ankle will go some way to allowing Choo to return to form next year. He is owed $116MM on his contract through 2020.
  • Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos declined to tip his hand regarding the status of manager John Gibbons for 2015, but MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm senses a change of tone from the GM. Anthopoulos emphasized that Gibbons is under contract, saying that he would treat the skipper like any other team employee: “you support them until you don’t support them.” Though Anthopoulos said that nothing should be read into his comments, Chisolm notes that the GM’s comments last year at this time revealed less reserved support for Gibbons.

Blue Jays Notes: Stroman, Pearce, Buehrle

The bullpen was one of the Blue Jays’ few strengths in 2013 and yet the relief corps has gotten off to a terrible start this year, Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi writes.  Last night’s blowup against the Royals was only the latest in a series of late-game meltdowns for the bullpen, which has a cumulative 5.08 ERA that ranks as the third-worst in the majors.  Here’s some more news from Toronto…

  • Cubs scout Dave Littlefield was in Buffalo last night to watch Marcus Stroman‘s six no-hit innings for the Triple-A Bisons, Davidi reports.  Chicago reportedly asked for both Stroman and Aaron Sanchez as part of a trade package for Jeff Samardzija in the offseason, a deal that the Jays rejected out of hand.  Littlefield’s presence could indicate a continued interest on the Cubs’ behalf or, as Davidi notes, simple due diligence.
  • Steve Pearce turned down the Jays’ waiver claim on his services in order to return to the Orioles because he could receive everyday playing time in Baltimore, according to Davidi.  Pearce will likely receive regular work at first base for the O’s while Chris Davis is out with an oblique injury.  The Blue Jays were looking at Pearce to start against left-handers as part of a DH platoon with Adam Lind.
  • If the Jays aren’t in contention by midseason, Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star notes that Mark Buehrle would likely have the most trade value of any Blue Jays starting pitcher.  The veteran southpaw has been the Jays’ best starter in 2014 and, as Griffin notes, Buehrle’s consistent track record means that a trade partner knows exactly what they’re getting.  Moving Buehrle would also free up payroll space for the Jays — he is owed approximately $15MM over the rest of 2014 and is owed $19MM in 2015.
  • Also from Griffin’s piece, he interviews Jays assistant GM Tony LaCava about several prospects at all levels of Toronto’s minor league system.

Orioles Re-Sign Steve Pearce

The Orioles have re-signed IF/OF Steve Pearce, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun tweets. The Orioles have announced that it’s a big-league deal. The O’s had previously designated Pearce for assignment. The Blue Jays claimed Pearce on release waivers, but he elected to become a free agent rather than accepting the claim.

Connolly explains the processes that led the Orioles to re-sign Pearce. The Orioles did not replace Chris Davis on their active roster after Davis went on the disabled list last weekend, which meant they were not restricted by a league rule that would have prevented them from adding Pearce to the active roster so soon after releasing him. With Davis out, having Pearce back allows the Orioles to have an extra first baseman.

Pearce, 31, hit .261/.362/.420 in 138 plate appearances for the Orioles last season, playing mostly DH and left field. He has also played for the Pirates, Astros and Yankees.



Orioles Release Steve Pearce

TUESDAY: The Orioles have announced that Pearce was claimed on release waivers (although it’s unclear which team claimed him), but that Pearce elected to become a free agent rather than accepting the claim. MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko tweets that the Orioles are interested in re-signing Pearce.

SUNDAY: The Orioles announced that they have released infielder/outfielder Steve Pearce. Baltimore designated the 31-year-old for assignment on Tuesday afternoon.

Pearce agreed with the O’s on a $850K deal to avoid arbitration this winter. The veteran made only seven plate appearances in the early portion of the 2014 season but he slashed .261/.362/.420 in 138 trips to the dish at the major league level in 2013.  Because the O’s have previously outrighted Pearce, he reserved the right to reject a minor league assignment.  However, it hasn’t come to that and the Orioles have instead cut him loose.

Over parts of eight big league seasons with the Pirates, Astros, Yankees, and Orioles, Pearce owns a career .237/.316/.376 slash line.  Across six Triple-A seasons, Pearce has slashed .287/.364/.497.


AL East Notes: Goins, Jays, Rays, Pearce, Bogaerts

The Blue Jays announced last night that they have optioned the struggling Ryan Goins to Triple-A, and Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi reports that Chris Getz will get the call to take his place. However, as Getz isn’t on the 40-man roster, a corresponding move will have to be made prior to today’s game. Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star wonders if Moises Sierra will lose his spot on the 40-man.

More out of the AL East…

  • Rays manager Joe Maddon isn’t sweating his team’s rough start and is in good spirits despite losing Matt Moore, Alex Cobb and Jeremy Hellickson to injuries, writes MLB.com’s Phil Rogers. Maddon said his experience as a minor league manager prepared him by giving him the right attitude in these situations: A lot of times, when you work in the Minor Leagues, manage in the Minor Leagues, there are times you don’t have the best team out there on a nightly basis, but you still believe you’re going to win somehow.”
  • The Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly expands on the technicality he reported yesterday that could allow the Orioles to re-sign Steve Pearce (whom they released on Sunday) and immediately add him to the 25-man roster. While clubs that re-sign a released player normally have to wait 30 days to add him to the active roster, that can be avoided if the club has had less than the full complement of active players at all times from the date of the waiver request to the date [the] player is re-signed.”
  • The Red Sox aren’t concerned with the defensive struggles of Xander Bogaerts, writes Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com. Edes spoke with Sox assistant general manager Mike Hazen, who said the team anticipated that there would be “challenges,” and that they could look glaring when compared to the excellent play Boston received at shortstop last year from Stephen Drew. Edes also spoke to a Major League scout who shook his head at any who disparage Bogaerts based on his glove. That scout told Edes that any of his peers that scouted Boston’s system in 2013 said Bogaerts was the best player they saw in Minor League Baseball.

AL East Notes: Drew, Orioles, Pearce, Francisco

Though they’ve had some issues on the left side of their infield, the Red Sox have yet to waver from their commitment to using Xander Bogaerts and Will Middlebrooks as their primary shortstop and third baseman, writes WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. Specifically, Bradford writes that the team has had zero discussions with Stephen Drew and agent Scott Boras since the season kicked off. Drew remains perhaps the most prominent free agent available and could be waiting until after the June draft when teams will no longer need to forfeit a draft pick to sign him. Here’s more on the AL East…

  • A roster shakeup is coming for the Orioles, writes Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, who notes that both Manny Machado and Troy Patton will be joining the club soon as they return from knee surgery and a 25-game suspension for Adderall usage, respectively.
  • From that same piece, Connolly notes that Steve Pearce‘s release waivers expire tomorrow, and it’s possible for the team to re-sign him and put him on the 25-man roster in place of the injured Chris Davis. Normally, a team that re-signs a released player must wait 30 days to place him back on the active roster, but Connolly spoke with one industry source who said there is a rules scenario that would allow Baltimore to work around that restriction.
  • Over the weekend, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet wondered if the Blue Jays‘ need for an eight-man bullpen could make Juan Francisco a roster casualty when Adam Lind returns from the disabled list. With both Brandon Morrow and Dustin McGowan averaging fewer than five innings per start, the team is being forced to carry two long relievers — Esmil Rogers and Todd Redmond. Francisco has impressed in his brief eight-game sample thus far, but as a left-handed power bat with serious platoon issues, he could be seen as redundant when Lind is healthy.

Orioles To Designate Steve Pearce For Assignment

The Orioles will designate outfielder Steve Pearce for assignment, reports Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (via Twitter). Pearce agreed with Baltimore on a $700K deal to avoid arbitration this winter.

Pearce, 31, had only seven plate appearances in the early portion of the 2014 season. Last year, in 138 trips to the dish at the MLB level, he put up a .261/.362/.420 line. The club has previously outrighted Pearce, so he would have the right to decline a minor league assignment (assuming he is ultimately exposed to outright waivers).


Players To Avoid Arbitration

With tonight’s non-tender deadline looming, several players figure to not only be tendered contracts but agree to their 2014 salaries prior to 11pm CT. We’ll run down the players to avoid arbitration with their respective clubs in this post, and remember that you can track the progress on all arbitration eligible players by using MLBTR’s 2014 Arbitration Tracker. For a reminder on the projected salaries for each of these players, check out Matt Swartz’s projections in MLBTR’s Arbitration Eligibles series.

  • The Nationals announced they’ve avoided arbitration with righty Ross Ohlendorf, tweets Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com. Ohlendorf’s deal will guarantee him $1.25MM and can reach $3MM via incentives that can be achieved as a starter or reliever, per the Washington Post’s Adam Kilgore.
  • The Cubs have avoided arbitration with utility infielder Donnie Murphy, reports Jesse Rogers of ESPN.com (via Twitter), agreeing to a one-year, $825K pact that includes incentives.
  • The Orioles have avoided arbitration with outfielder Steve Pearce for $850K, tweets Rosenthal.
  • The Padres have reached terms with pitcher Eric Stults on a $2.75MM deal to avoid arbitration, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. He had been projected by Swartz to earn $3MM through arbitration. Unlike most arbitration deals, tweets Rosenthal, this one will be guaranteed.  Also getting a guaranteed deal from the Padres, per Rosenthal, is righty Tim Stauffer at $1.6MM.
  • The White Sox have avoided arbitration with catcher Tyler Flowers with a $950k contract, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
  • The Athletics have avoided arbitration with righty Fernando Rodriguez, tweets Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.  Rodriguez, who is represented by Metis Sports Management, LLC, will earn $600K plus award bonuses, MLBTR has learned.  The A’s will tender contracts to its remaining arb-eligible players, Slusser notes via Twitter.
  • The Indians have avoided arbitration with relievers Frank Herrmann and Blake Wood, the club announced. Each player will earn $560k, tweets Jordan Bastian of MLB.com, which falls below their respective projections from MLBTR’s Matt Swartz.
  • Newly-acquired catcher George Kottaras has reached agreement on a one-year, $1.075MM deal to avoid arbitration with the Cubs, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The contract includes incentives, according to Heyman. A left-handed batter, Kottaras managed only a .180 batting average last year, but got on base at a .349 clip in addition to posting a .370 slugging mark in his 126 plate appearances.
  • The Orioles have avoided arbitration with outfielder Nolan Reimold, sources tell Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (link to Twitter). The 30-year-old will get a one-year, $1.025MM deal that includes incentives. Reimold lost most of the last two seasons to injury, but has a career .252/.327/.439 slash in 1,056 plate appearances dating back to 2009. His salary will be guaranteed, tweets Connolly.
  • The Phillies have avoided arbitration with infielder Kevin Frandsen, the club announced. Frandsen will receive a one-year, $900k deal that includes performance incentives. Last year, Frandsen had a .234/.296/.341 slash line in 278 plate appearances. The deal is guaranteed, Rosenthal tweets.
  • The Braves announced that they have avoided arbitration with infielder Ramiro Pena and left-hander Jonny Venters (Twitter link). Pena, 28, batted a solid .278/.330/.443 in 107 PAs this season before shoulder surgery ended his season. Venters’ contract was first reported two weeks ago and is said to be worth $1.625MM.
  • MLB.com’s Jason Beck tweets that the Tigers have avoided arbitration with Don Kelly by agreeing to a one-year, $1MM contract for 2014. Kelly will turn 34 in February and batted .222/.309/.343 in 2013 — all numbers that are nearly mirrored by his career .229/.290/.344 batting line. He is represented by LSW Baseball.
  • The Pirates have avoided arbitration with Chris Stewart, according to Daniel Barbarisi of the Wall Street Journal (on Twitter). Barbarisi reports that the trade sending Stewart to Pittsburgh was actually in place on Friday but was also contingent on Stewart agreeing to a new contract with the Pirates. Stewart, a client of James A. Kuzmich, PLLC, agreed to his new contract today, thereby finalizing the trade. He projected to earn $1MM, per Swartz.

East Links: Harang, Span, Romero, Halladay

Blue Jays shortstop Jose Reyes was surprised when Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports pointed out that his new team is off the the same 2-5 start as the Marlins were a year prior. Reyes, however, isn't worried about his team's outlook: "…there’s no concern at all. There’s way too much talent on this ballclub to continue to play the way we’re playing.” Here are some more links from baseball's two Eastern divisions…

  • WEEI.com's Rob Bradford hears that the Red Sox are not interested in trading for Aaron Harang (Twitter link). Reports over the weekend linked Boston to the recently DFA'ed right-hander.
  • Offseason acquisition Denard Span has given the Nationals a "new kind of offensive identity," writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. The presence of Span and Jayson Werth atop the lineup forces pitchers to work, given the high volume of pitches the pair averages per plate appearance. Werth and Adam LaRoche both offer high praise for the Nats' new leadoff man, who was acquired from the Twins for Alex Meyer this offseason.
  • Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca chronicles the early work that former Blue Jays ace Ricky Romero has done so far in his attempts to rediscover his mechanics. As Dividi notes, given the $7.5MM owed to Romero in each of the next three seasons, Toronto has no reason to rush and every reason to make sure they get it right.
  • Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com that struggling ace Roy Halladay will have as long of a leash as he needs to get things sorted out: "If he needs 30 starts he’ll get it. As long as he’s healthy and he keeps working at it — as much as he needs."
  • Chris Dickerson is set to be added to the Orioles' 40-man and 25-man roster today, but speculation that it could result in a Steve Pearce DFA doesn't make sense, writes Roch Kubatko of MASNsports, who hears that the upcoming move won't involve Pearce.

Orioles Notes: Hendrickson, Pearce

Last week the Orioles extended manager Buck Showalter and executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette through the 2018 season. Here's a look at what Orioles management is doing to boost their chances of returning to the playoffs in 2013…

  • The Orioles plan to offer left-hander Mark Hendrickson a minor league deal that includes an invitation to MLB Spring Training, Eduardo A. Encina The Baltimore Sun reports. Hendrickson, the former NBA player who pitched with Baltimore from 2009-11, threw bullpen sessions for Orioles personnel last week. The 38-year-old is now pitching sidearm as he attempts to return to the MLB level for the first time since 2011.
  • After a turbulent 2012 season, Steve Pearce's travels appear to have ended now that he’s a non-roster player with the Orioles. The 29-year-old said he’s glad he’s still in Baltimore, Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com reports. “This is the place I wanted to be,” Pearce said. “I wasn’t thinking about being claimed by anyone else, and this is where I wanted to be.”