The best team in baseball isn’t resting on its laurels.
The Boston Red Sox made that clear Thursday night, acquiring first baseman/outfielder Steve Pearce via trade with the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for minor league infielder Santiago Espinal.
The deal seemingly came out of nowhere, as Major League Baseball’s trade deadline still is over a month away. So, why did the American League-leading Red Sox add Pearce now?
Team president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski put it in plain terms Thursday following Boston’s 4-2 win over the Los Angeles Angels.
“We’ve been looking for a guy who can hit left-handed pitching, even though we’ve done better in recent times,” Dombrowski said in a press conference aired on NESN. “We’ve talked about adding one more guy we can put in the lineup against a tough left-hander.
“He’s traditionally hit left-handed pitching very well. He’s a threat to drive in runs, drive the ball out of the ballpark. We think he’s a guy who can be a key cog for us against certain left-handed pitching. He can hit right-handers, too, but this is really the role we were looking for from him.”
Pearce only played 26 games for Toronto this season while battling injuries boasts a .306/.358/.531 slash line against left-handed pitching. He also provides a little pop with at least 13 home runs in his last four seasons and has spent his last eight seasons in the AL East.
“Everybody knows that he hits left-handed pitching,” manager Alex Cora said of Pearce on Thursday night, as aired on NESN. “He knows the division, obviously. He’s a good player; he’s swinging the bat well.”
The Red Sox, who are hitting .257 against lefties as a club this season, do have a need in that area, as Hanley Ramirez was hitting .333 against left-handed pitching before Boston released him in May. With experience playing outfield and first base in addition to designated hitter, the 35-year-old Pearce can spell Mitch Moreland at first or slot in at DH when J.D. Martinez plays outfield.
It’s somewhat of a similar role to the one Chris Young played for Boston over the last two seasons; Young primarily started against left-handers and hit .329 against them in 2016.
Pearce has played 100 games in a season just once, so he’s not a major difference-maker. But he still fills a need at a relatively low cost as Boston gears up for the second half.
“It’s one more weapon that we have,” Cora added. “We got better tonight. It’s good to have him.”
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images