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Former Oriole Steve Pearce Takes Unlikely Road To World Series MVP

October 29, 2018
Steve Pearce is the most "googled" name in baseball today -- for good reason. There really isn't much to find out, even though it has seemed at times like he was the most popular player ever to wear a Baltimore Orioles uniform.

Take a close look at the resume of the most unlikely World Series MVP since … well, since Rick Dempsey 35 years ago … and the most significant thing you'll find is that he's belonged to eight different organizations -- and never been traded for a major league player. 

He's best known as the man for all American League East teams, the Boston Red Sox being the final stop on that caravan. He's right up there at the top of "I Always Liked That Guy" list, despite pedestrian offensive numbers (except against left-handed pitchers) and without a position to call his own.

Pearce is the epitome of a player contending teams want until … well, until they need a spot on the roster. From the very beginning, there's been something to like about the guy, even if teams weren't always sure what it was -- something obvious from the very beginning.

He was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 45th round out of high school in 2003 but didn't sign; by the Red Sox in the 10th round out of junior college a year later but didn't sign; and finally by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the eighth round out of the University of South Carolina in 2005. Six years in the Pittsburgh system, including parts of five in the big leagues, was a baseball lifetime compared to what followed.

There are 16 transaction lines on Pearce's professional page on Baseball Reference. If you follow the bouncing ball, here's what you'll find:

- He was released twice.
- He was purchased for cash twice.
- He was claimed off waivers twice.
- He was traded twice (for minor leaguers Jonah Heim and Santiago Espinal).
- He was granted free agency (non-tendered) three times.
- He signed as a free agent five times (once released by Twins without playing a game).

In other words, the World Series MVP has been around the block a few times. His career in a nutshell: "It's been nice knowing you; been a pleasure having you around; don't call us, we'll call you."

In a little less than nine years of major league service, Pearce has earned slightly more than $24 million, an average of less than $3 million per year, which is little more than chump change. Before signing a two-year $12.5 million contract with the Toronto Blue Jays before the 2017 season, Pearce's biggest payday was a $4.75 million contract with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2016.

Barring a preemptive move by the Red Sox, who will have a roster crunch, a couple more transaction lines will probably be added to Pearce's resume. Because, you guessed it … drum roll please … he will be a free agent again in a few more days. At the age of 35, when most careers are winding down, Pearce remains an economical option for contending teams.

He's definitely a prime candidate for another two-year gig because, worst-case scenario, there will be a contending team looking for a right-handed hitter in the next two years. And you know who will be available.

Steve (I Always Liked That Guy) Pearce has a bat -- and has traveled.

This has been updated.

Jim Henneman can be reached at 

Photo Credit: Mitch Stringer/PressBox