The Cleveland Indians rumors have the team searching for an upgrade for third base. Is Steve Pearce the right fit?
Joel Sherman, MLB Network Insider, tweeted last night that the Indians were inquiring about the versatile Pearce.
Pearce is a 33-year old journeyman who enjoyed a breakout season in 2014 for Baltimore. He blasted 21 home runs and hit .293. He came crashing to earth last season, batting just .218.
He has bounced back nicely in 2016. He has hit ten homers and has produced an impressive slash of .312/.384/.528/.912 in 224 plate appearances with the Rays.
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His versatility is his best asset. This season he has played in 28 games at first, 14 at second, and two at third. Over the years, he has played 206 games in the outfield as well, but not with the Rays this season.
With first and second bases locked down, the Indians are probably not looking to add Pearce at these spots. Since he’s right-handed, he can’t even platoon with Mike Napoli at designated hitter.
Indians’ third basemen, primarily Uribe and Jose Martinez, have combined for 2.0 Wins Above Replacement, which ranks 17th in the majors this season. Uribe, though, is hitting just .209 with a terrible .598 OPS.
Martinez has been much better (hitting .288), but his value lies in his ability to play in the outfield as well. He’s also seen time at second and shortstop.
Pearce just hasn’t spent that much time at third and who knows how well he can play there if asked to do so on a regular basis.
Eduardo Nunez seems like a much better fit for the Indians. ESPN’s Buster Olney mentioned the Indians were considering him as well.
Nunez is a much more natural third baseman and is having a terrific offensive campaign in his own right. His slash line is a solid .300/.326/.444/.771. He has hit 12 home runs and leads the league in stolen bases with 26.
His biggest issue is that he’s a hacker. He has just 14 walks on the season and only 82 for his career.
His glove, though, would make him the better option. Of course, it may be difficult to convince the Twins to trade within their division. Considering Nunez will be arbitration eligible after this season, the Twins may not want to make that trade.
Pearce will be a free agent after this season, so if the Indians make a deal for him, it will probably be as a rental.
Adding either Pearce or Nunez would be an upgrade over Uribe, and would help the club as they make a run toward postseason play.
The Cleveland Indians rumors should continue to develop over the upcoming days. The Indians want to add some pieces to strengthen their roster, so they make a deep run in the playoffs. This is their best opportunity in years for postseason play; look for the team to make a deal or two.