Talks between the Blue Jays and free agent first baseman/outfielder Steve Pearce have begun to gain traction, reports ESPN’s Buster Olney (on Twitter). The two sides are progressing toward a deal, Olney adds.
Pearce, 33, underwent forearm surgery in September that was said to come with a four to six month recovery timeline, but he’s been quite productive for the bulk of the past four seasons when healthy. Dating back to 2013, Pearce has slashed a robust .266/.348/.485 with an average of 27 homers per 162 games played. He’s been especially productive against southpaws in that time, batting .272/.359/.523 in 418 plate appearances.
Of course, the greater question for Jays fans would be whether the addition of Pearce would close the door on a reunion with longtime cornerstone Edwin Encarnacion. Toronto has already inked Kendrys Morales to a three-year, $33MM deal this winter, and with Pearce potentially joining Justin Smoak in the mix at first base, it could further limit the urgency to extend a lucrative offer for Encarnacion. Then again, Pearce does have extensive experience on the outfield grass, and the Jays do have a need in the corners, so it’s not impossible to see a scenario in which both right-handed sluggers suit up with the Jays in 2017.