Should the Pirates Trade Pedro Alvarez?


The Rockies could be looking at Pedro Alvarez.

Troy Renck of the Denver Post reported today that the Colorado Rockies will be searching for a new third baseman in 2012, and will be casting a wide net.  Renck mentions Pedro Alvarez in his list of the intriguing, and mentions that the team inquired on him in trade talks for Ian Stewart at the trade deadline, but received no interest.

Alvarez is coming off a horrible year in 2011.  He had a .191/.272/.289 line in 235 at-bats in the majors, and was optioned to AAA twice.  He struggled the second time around in AAA, dropping his line there to a .256/.365/.432 line in 125 at-bats.  The poor performance has Pirates fans jumping off the Pedro Alvarez bandwagon.  The general feeling is one of doom and gloom, with no hope that the 24 year old third baseman, who has 582 major league at-bats, will see any improvements.

The idea of trading Alvarez might be appealing coming off his 2011 season.  Fans might want to be anxious to get rid of a guy who was expected to carry the team for years to come and has failed to live to to that hype in the early part of his career.  However, a trade of Alvarez probably doesn’t make sense for the Pirates.

There would definitely be teams interested, as they should.  Despite the “glass is half empty” view in Pittsburgh, Alvarez is still a young player who isn’t really proven in the majors.  The common expectation for prospects these days, at least from the fans perspective, is a perfect track record, with no signs of struggles anywhere.  If a player has a down year in the minors, people start to suggest he’s washing out.  If a player doesn’t have immediate success in the majors, people can’t envision him improving to a higher level with more experience and maturity.  So even though people are down on Alvarez because of his 2011 season, teams would probably look at him as a good “buy low” candidate.

Unfortunately, that’s where the problem lies.  The Pirates aren’t going to get a good deal if they trade Alvarez.  More likely it’s going to be a change in scenery deal, where they get a top prospect who is struggling early in his career.  Basically, we’re talking about the exact same situation as Alvarez.  You’re unlikely to see a top prospect like Drew Pomeranz or Tyler Matzek.  Instead, you’re probably going to see a guy like Ian Stewart or Dexter Fowler.  Both guys are in the same category as Alvarez: they’re young, and have the chance to realize their potential, but they’ve struggled initially.

Stewart wouldn’t make any sense, since he’s two years older than Alvarez, and lacks the potential upside that Alvarez has.  Fowler wouldn’t make sense, as the Pirates don’t have a spot for him, with Andrew McCutchen, Jose Tabata, and Alex Presley starting in the outfield, and Starling Marte making the jump to AAA in 2012.

Any trade involving Alvarez would have to potentially fill a need, as the Pirates would be abandoning their only hope of an above-average or better third baseman.  So we’re talking a first baseman, a shortstop, a long term catcher, or a solid starting pitcher.  And since the Pirates are likely just going to get a “Pedro Alvarez” version of one of those positions, there’s no guarantee that they upgrade the team with a move.

The big drawback for an Alvarez trade is the fear that he might eventually realize his potential.  The Pirates drafted him, hoping he would eventually carry the lineup.  The view is bleak now, but if he goes to another team and realizes his potential there, fans would revolt.  They did this with Jose Bautista, despite the fact that he had a .239/.324/.398 line through the age of 27, put up another poor year at the age of 28, then broke out at the age of 29, a year and a half after the trade.  There’s no question that people would look at Alvarez in hindsight, see that he only had 582 at-bats at the age of 24, and say the Pirates gave up on him too soon.

The Pirates are pretty much stuck with Alvarez, for better or worse.  They’re unlikely to get a guy with the same upside, which is why they’d be better off keeping him and taking their chances on him reaching that upside.  They’d have a hard time trading him, for that same reason.  Any trade would be bringing in someone with a lesser upside, the same struggles, or both.  It would be easier if they had another third base option, although that’s not an easy position to fill.  I wouldn’t be surprised if we heard more Alvarez rumors over the winter, but I would be surprised if we see him get traded.

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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2012 Pittsburgh Pirates Arbitration Eligible Players

  • Anonymous

    I’d fire Huntington if he traded Alvarez.

  • John Franco

    The Rockies do have some very interesting catchers, if you want to hedge on Sanchez. I’m just not sure how much they’d pay for Alvarez. Stewart+ Iannetta, or Stewart+ Rosario or Pacheco? I’d really have a hard time passing that up.

  • Bob

    If they trade him I am officially going to become a Braves fan.  This talk is just ridiculous.  I am so tired of this team sucking.  

    • Tim Williams

      Keep in mind that this was from a Denver writer, and it only said that the Rockies might try to get Alvarez. It didn’t say the Pirates were shopping him. In fact, it did say the Pirates weren’t previously interested.

  • Robert

    I wouldn’t necessarily trade Pedro but he doesn’t have the defense needed to stay at 3B. I’d move him to 1B.

    • white angus

      you make a valid suggestion, yet the one part of Pedro’s game that actually improved was, GASP, his defense

    • Ian Rothermund

      I disagree with the comment on defense.  Statistically he did improve at 3B, but at least if they did move him already in his career, Pittsburgh would boast the first baseman with the most powerful arm at 1B, lol.  Keep him at 3rd until we have a real option.

  • Jerry Green

    The biggest problem would be that the Pirates trading him now would be selling low. This year was a huge let down, but I think they should wait at least another full season before they even start to think about cutting their losses with him…

  • Anonymous

    Alvarezes potential is still worth more to the Pirates than what somebody would offer for him.

  • Anonymous

    He’s only been in the majors for a year give him a break, plus there’s nothing left to trade it’s time to sign players that are part of the solution not a stop gap type to plug a hole

  • Lee Young

    Alvarez = Brandon Wood in my eyes, but I agree with Tim that we are stuck with him for better or worse. However, I wouldn’t mind if we could GET Ian Stewart somehow, some way.

  • Anonymous

    IMO, they could trade anyone on this team for the right deal, they need a 1 or 2 starter in the worst way and I do not want to wait for that 1 or 2 to appear from the minor leagues because that would take at least 5 to 6 years, pitchers don’t come up as 1’s or 2’s very often, they need a couple of years in the majors to get to that stage and a free agent is pretty much out of the question, that leaves trading for one as the only option and since we do not have a player on the roster that we can’t replace, trade anyone for the right deal.

  • Anonymous

    While we are at it, lets trade for a 8th inning setup pitcher, a good one, the mix and match method does not work IMO.

  • Evan Deane

    The fact that this is even being talked about is ridiculous. Pedro was rushed to the Majors way to early as it was. the fact that he had a slumped season, isn’t a red flag. if the pirates were to trade him away, it would be an extremely dumb move. if they can pull off a trade, i’d expect a Jimmy Rollins type of infielder or a top-2 starter. but they shouldn’t touch the trade button when it comes to Alvarez, Walker, McCutchen, or Hanrahan.

  • Colin Dew-Becker

    Trading Alvarez now would go completely against the philosophical approach that the Pirates front office has had since Huntington took over. They’ve made multiple trades over the past 3 years ‘buying low’ on former high-end prospects, namely Jose Tabata, Jeff Clement, and Brandon Wood. It would be shocking for them to sell Alvarez, who is only 24, still under team control for at least 5 more years, and has shown promise at the major league level. The best return would be a more expensive player, with less time under team control, struggling at the major league level, or a hodgepodge of low ceiling prospects. There’s just no justifiable reason for the Pirates, in their financial situation, and competitive situation, to trade away a player with the ceiling of Alvarez after just 2 years of professional experience. Luckily, there’s no real worry as Huntington would never “sell low” on Alvarez.

  • Anonymous

    Here’s my problem with this article.  He says that fans expect perfect track records with no struggles.  That is not at all true.  We know that everybody from Brandon Wood to Albert Pujols is going to have struggles, but the reason we’re upset is the extent of Pedro’s problems.  .190 with 4 home runs when we were told he could go .270 with close to 30 HRs?  .230 with 15-20 home runs would’ve been bad, but this was just awful

  • CJ Burchfield

    There are quite a few points that are being missed by everyone.
    1. Pedro Alvarez is tied to Neil… he is not about to give up on his first big draft pick.  This is the reason Pedro was moved through the system so quickly, along with the idea that he had a major league ready bat.
    2. That being said no one is off the table… not Alvarez or McCutchen.  If the price is right the price is right… they however are not going to dump a player like they did with Aram.  If the Rockies would offer Wilin Rosario…. and another piece they need to look at it. 
    3.There is no way the Buccos are going to get a number 1 or 2 other than bringing it from inside their system.
    4. For the person who said we have nothing left to trade.  Our farm system is actually rich in young pitching, which could bring back some big league players.  Also much the way we traded away McLouth, if you have someone else ready for the position it can make sense to trade away a player.  If Marte has another solid season and the Pirates decide he is their CF of the future, Andrew McCutchen could bring back a package that could change this team completely.  While I would hate to see Andrew McCutchen go, I will say again anyone can be had for the right price. 
    5. Bottom line is Alvarez has talent, he is not however the savior of the Pittsburgh Pirates.  He doesn’t have the mental toughness to take on this role.  Maybe he can figure it out and be a very good player, but the more pressure he has to succeed the worse he will get.  The better the team is around him, the better he will play.  Their offense should be better next year by the fact that these young guys have another year under their belt… look for Alvarez to improve as well even if it is not by leaps and bounds.

  • Robert Joseph Cerasuolo

    how bout trading Alvarez Daniel McCutchen and Jason Jarmillio to the Braves for David Ross Jair Jurrjens and Ernesto Mejia

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