In baseball, more often than not, when you look back at the difference makers on a championship team the superstars are not the players that typically have made the biggest impact. A few examples include Scott Brosius with the 1998 Yankees; Mike Lowell on the 2007 Red Sox; Shane Victorino on the 2013 Red Sox; and the many more that became superstars as a result of their heroic playoff performances. (i.e. Madison Bumgarner).
This week the Boston Red Sox signed Steve Pearce to a 1 year, $6.25 million deal. No one is surprised that the 2018 World Series MVP was going to get another contract, despite being 35 years old by the time the 2018 season concluded. As another, in a long line, of unsung playoff heroes, few would argue he prolonged his career with his 2018 campaign. The shocking result is that he chose to stay in Boston on a short term contract when there is little doubt that he most certainly could have cashed in on, at least, a two year deal on any number of other ball clubs.
The deal itself says a lot. First and foremost, as a lifelong Red Sox fan Steve Pearce wanted to be in Boston. He was not going to get a multi-year deal from Boston. As a result, he took the one year deal. Second, and more telling, by passing up on the multi-year deal that a number of teams were likely offering, he is the unusual modern athlete that was willing to take a step towards (another) championship, on his preferred team, over the dollars that would have left his family, and his heirs, without the need to have another job.
I love it. It is so goddamn refreshing to have an athlete choose a City, choose a fan base, choose a team; over dollar bills. Why am I so impressed by Steve Pearce’s decision? Simple: I would have chased the dollars.
Along with Pearce being a lifelong fan of the Boston Red Sox, this move makes so much sense once you consider his role. Mitch Moreland is not an everyday player. He is not built for a 162 games, he typically wears down around 80 games, and he is not effective against left-handed pitching. Steve Pearce is a career +.900 OPS against left-handed pitching, plays plus defense (although certainly not at the gold glove level that Moreland is capable, including winning the award in 2016), and is so clearly a fit in the clubhouse.
The 2019 Boston Red Sox have questions. At the time this blog is published the Sox do not have a closer, have not addressed obvious bullpen issues (despite the playoff success), need to figure out second base, and need to settle on two catchers so that they are able to lengthen the 25 man roster.
With that said, they have signed a complimentary player that has already proven is the type of player that can help, and be a (most valuable) player on a championship team.
I see what you are doing Dombrowski, and I like it. Credit to you Steve Pearce for choosing the opportunity over the dollar bills. Lets go Sox.
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Photo Credit: Matt Stone/Boston Globe