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TAMPA BAY RAYS
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Signed OF/1B-R Steve Pearce to a one-year contract [1/21]

In 2014, Pearce had an epic breakout. It was the type of season that every journeyman outfielder/corner infielder dreams of&not—after being released in April, he returned to the Orioles just days later to post a .346 True Average for the season. Among all hitters with 200 or more plate appearances (all of them!), Pearce ranked third in all of baseball in TAv, trailing just Mike Trout and Andrew McCutchen on BP’s leaderboard. That’s the kind of feel-good story that comes around far too infrequently.

Of course, all good things must end. Pearce’s 2015—his age-32 season and only his second recording 300+ plate appearances—was certainly a letdown. A .289 on-base percentage and. 422 slugging percentage is not exactly what teams look for out of their defensively-challenged corner-men. (Maybe that’s why the Orioles tried him out at second base for 18 games? He certainly hit like a middle infielder.) However, if it wasn’t for this disappointing season, there’s likely no chance that the cost-conscious Rays would’ve been able to get their hands on the Floridian.

The Rays are probably not betting on 2014’s all-world performance from Pearce. That’s good, because we’re more likely to get a new stadium in Tampa next season that to see Pearce rattle off another top-five-in-baseball onslaught. No, they seem to be looking at him as a platoon caddy for Logan Morrison and/or James Loney at DH and first base, perhaps an outfielder at times, and definitely not a replacement for Logan Forsythe up the middle. It’s been noted that his skill set (a little power and some on-base skills) and position breakdown is similar to existing Ray Brandon Guyer. But given the fact that both Loney and Morrison could use a caddy, perhaps there’s room for both on the Rays’ roster?

If Pearce rebounds from his cruddy 2015, he’d be a nice fit on any team…and there’s a decent chance he could do just that in 2016. His BABIP last season (.232) was a complete disaster and far off from his career norm. He also improved quite a bit once he escaped from the spring—he was a better than league-average hitter starting on June 1st, and his batted ball data and plate discipline profiles don’t look dramatically different from what he was doing over the past few seasons.

Though it’s uncertain what the contract details are at this point, it’s probably likely that the contract will skate in between four and six million dollars, which is a great price to pay for a maybe-good, maybe-average offensive piece. If he acquits himself as a league-average hitter, then it’ll be a great deal for the Rays. If not, well, we’ll always have 2014. —Bryan Grosnick

NEW YORK METS
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Signed LHP Antonio Bastardo to a two-year deal worth $12 million. [1/20]

The book on Bastardo hasn't been amended in years. He's short and wild and blessed with an explosive fastball that rises and runs. The downside to his heater's verve is his difficulty in commanding the pitch; hence walk rates exceeding four per nine innings in each of his full big-league seasons. Mets fans who remember Alex Torres all too well should rest easier knowing that Bastardo is a better materialization of the same tiny, walk-prone lefty premise. Consider, for instance, that Bastardo's multi-year performance against righties (resulting in a .240 True Average) makes him a legitimate late-inning option, as opposed to some one-and-done specialist who requires careful micro-managing.

Throw Bastardo into a Mets bullpen that already includes a few other quality pieces, and you have the makings of a solid-to-good group. Obviously it's not the impact addition every Mets fan wants, but it's a nice get anyway. —R.J. Anderson

SAN DIEGO PADRES
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Signed RHP Fernando Rodney to a one-year deal worth $2 million with incentives and a club option. [1/20]

Relievers are a fickle bunch and Rodney, a 14-year vet who will try out his sixth team in 2016, is no exception. He's tallied 73 percent of his career WARP in two seasons ('06 and '12) while his cFIP has reached as low as 69 and as high as 123—in back-to-back years, no less. There's Good Rodney: a high-wire act that produces lots of grounders and strikeouts. Then there's Bad Rodney: a high-wire act that produces lots of grounders and fewer strikeouts and a gopher ball here and there. Walks are included in both versions.

Last season epitomized Rodney's career. He was dreadful with Seattle, as his K/9 dipped to 7.6 and he allowed eight home runs in 50 2/3 innings. In 12 innings down the stretch with the Cubs, his K/9 skyrocketed to 11.2 while his BB/9 dropped to 3.0, a performance that earned him a spot on Chicago's postseason roster. Rodney's two-seamer velocity checked in at 95.16 last season, which is both really fast but also his lowest mark on record.

He'll be 39 in March and the track record is spotty, at best, so it's tough to project a second late-career turnaround. The Padres, though, are currently weighing Jon Edwards as an option at closer, so they'll take their chances. —Dustin Palmateer