Rays first baseman Steve Pearce has been traded to the Baltimore Orioles at deadline for catching prospect Jonah Heim, per Ken Rosenthal. It came down to the wire, but it appears Pearce will be heading back to where he spent his 2013-2015 seasons, playing half his games in Baltimore.
Source: #Rays acquire Jonah Heim from #Orioles for Pearce.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) August 1, 2016
Steve Pearce was signed prior to the 2016 as a free agent on a one year deal, making his an expiring contract. With the Rays out of contention, it was only a matter of time before the Rays tried to get something of value from a contender looking to add his bat to their lineup.
In return, the Rays acquire 21 year old prospect Jonah Heim, a catcher currently in A+ ball. Drafted in the 4th round in 2013, Heim is known for his defense, but the bat may be coming around as well. With Justin O'Conner on the DL and Chris Betts coming off Tommy John surgery and many years away from contributing, the Rays did well to add another catching prospect to a system that could use one. Heim was Baltimore's 13th ranked prospect, according to MLB.com. Here is their writeup:
Heim... made his full-season debut at Class A Delmarva in 2015, where he got off to a promising start before a broken bone in his left foot in May derailed his campaign. Initially thought to be a potential career-threating injury, Heim was able to avoid surgery and returned to Delmarva in late August. He parlayed a strong showing during fall instructional league and then in Spring Training into an Opening Day assignment to Class A Advanced Frederick, where he's shown usable power and good on-base skills despite offering little in the way of average.
One of the better defensive catchers in the 2013 Draft class, Heim has already shown excellent, receiving, blocking and throwing skills. He's mature beyond his years, calling his own game and working extremely well with pitchers. He's agile and moves well behind the plate, with plus arm strength that helps him shut down running games. A switch hitter, the upstate New York product has a good swing from both sides of the plate, but he lacks the current strength to drive the ball with any consistency.
The Orioles are more than willing to be patient with Heim, believing that with his aptitude and plus makeup, he will develop into an all-around catcher as he gains strength and experience. At the very least, they have a capable defensive backup on their hands.