During the Dan Duquette era, July and August are a time of player arrivals. The Orioles' barren farm system tends to restrict the club to finding second and third tier additions with the lone exception of 2014 when elite relief arms were cheaper. 2016 was not like 2014, it was more like other seasons where a B or C level prospect was dispensed for a potentially useful player. The two coming in this year were LHSP Wade Miley and UTL Steve Pearce.
Matt Perez and Matt Kremnitzer addressed the Miley addition yesterday. My only addition would be to note that Miley has had a rather up and down season, but has strung together a series of adequate games. I believe Ryan Romano will dive into that for us on MASN. Miley certainly is not a pitcher you expect great things from, His main issue this year has been leaving the ball up a few times and getting it punished. The Orioles tend to emphasize pitching low in the zone and rising with high four seamers, so maybe Miley can escape the home run bug or at limit it to bases empty scenarios. One would think most teams disagree as the cost was rather low: an older prospect who one day hopes to be Wade Miley.
The second piece the Orioles added was a replacement of their earlier target: Melvin Upton, Jr. The Orioles were looking for a bat to deliver more production against left handed starters, which their end of season schedule is likely to be chock full of. The replacement is a name common to Orioles fans and was perhaps the player who strongly pushed the Orioles into a 2014 runaway season: Steve Pearce.
Pearce is a right handed hitter who, when on, is the living embodiment of a professional hitter and, when off, is the guy you want to shuttle back to Norfolk. 2015 saw the guy who should be in Norfolk, but who still inspired many of the writers here to advocate for him to be re-signed during our October blueprint series. Pearce wanted immensely to return to Baltimore and basically put himself in stasis until it was painfully obvious that the Orioles had zero interest in him. He decided to go home on a one year deal at 4.75 MM and, at age 33, be the oldest player on the Rays by two years.
Although, in all too typical fashion, Pearce has experienced some injuries this season, he has also rediscovered his 2014 glory. He is slashing 389/484/741 (227 wRC+) against southpaws and a more modest 280/351/440 (118 wRC+) against right handers. Although he played often in the outfield for Baltimore, Pearce's time in Tampa has been spent at first base, second based, designated hitter, and a splash at third base. In Pearce, the Orioles appear to have found all of their needs answered except for someone who can backup Adam Jones. All in all, he fits.
The cost for Pearce may at first glance not appear to be much, but it was more than Ariel Miranda, the pitcher exchanged for Wade Miley. The Orioles gave the Rays, arguably, their only true catcher in the system: Jonah Heim. Heim is known as a defensive first catcher whose bat has lagged, but who is still young enough for him to figure out enough offensively. Defensively, he is a gem. Good footwork, short arm path, short pop times, gets out in front of the plate with ease, solid receiving skills, and decent blocking. These are important skills to have as a catcher because history has shown that catchers who lack defensive adequacy almost never acquire it. It is a rule that a few organizations take as gospel in that they never draft defense-suspect catchers.
Heim is not an elite prospect. He profiles more as a backup catcher and is one who I am fairly confident will reach the majors and put in at least a few years. I have great doubt that Chance Sisco can figure out what he needs to do behind the plate and have similar concerns about Alex Murphy. Sisco, though, has enough of a bat that he might be able to hit enough for second base and has the athleticism for it. Though, like Schoop, he appears to lack the reflexes and agility to be a good defensive second baseman. Anyway, the point being that Heim was actually unique in the Orioles system: a likely MLBer who actually could catch. Sure, getting someone like Pearce will cost something of value, but we should be aware that just because a number of people are playing catcher in this organization that it does not mean the club has actual depth at catcher.
In the end, Heim is probably worth the one win that Pearce will be worth. Pearce shores up the bench and gives a solid starting option against left handers. He makes for a more compelling platoon partner with Hyun Soo Kim, and those extra runs will help make up for problems with the starting rotation that Wade Miley may not be able to fix.