Pirates Now Likely to Keep Pedro Alvarez

According to Jayson Stark, the Pittsburgh Pirates are telling teams that they are likely to keep Pedro Alvarez. Stark mentions that the Pirates will likely end their hunt for a first base upgrade, but I’m not sure they wouldn’t still look for help there just because they now plan on keeping him. They were willing to sign Corey Hart to play some first base coming into the season and Alvarez is only hitting .232/.301/.430 and playing well below average defense, so it’s not like he has done anything to prove that he can play there everyday and add value. Plus he has a .454 OPS against left-handed pitchers, so there is still a place/need for a good glove and strong right-handed bat.

It could be that no one was willing to give up much for Alvarez, who is getting paid nearly $6M this year. With just one year left before free agency, and one in which he will receive a raise through arbitration, it wouldn’t be surprising if no one had interest in giving up something of value for him. So it looks like he will stay for now.

  • Don’t folks realize that in a few weeks we will have a new right handed first base/right fielder in Josh Harrison?

  • Seems like everyone the pirates are connected to are going elsewhere. Clippard,victorino,cishek with ramirez being the lone exception. Makes me think it’s gonna be an out of the blue move that noone hears about until an hour after the deal is done.

    • I agree. Big names are starting to move and the Cardinals are going for it. So should the Pirates and they have prospects stacked up to spare without necessarily trading more than one out of their top six prospects. I wonder how GMs value prospects coming off Tommy John surgery deemed to be successful. We have some of them unfortunately.

  • derekbellstutu
    July 27, 2015 8:22 pm

    Stark’s tweet doesn’t convince me that the Bucs are done looking for a 1B. Neal should continue to pursue Adam Lind or Mitch Moreland for 1B. The Pirates should also acquire another SP. I don’t like the Pirates postseason chances if they don’t add another SP. Burnett might be fading and you never know what you’re going to get with Morton or Locke.

  • Big deal on Pedro. It was last off season or 2 years ago I remember reading a short article in the Trib or PG that the Pirates tried to trade Pedro and their were no takers at the asking price. So they tried to trade him again and the price was still too high. Pedro has one more year to be worth anything in free agency. I have noticed the long looks on his face as he realizes the Pirates want to get rid of him and no team is really interested in him.

  • With the addition of Ramirez at third, I see Pedro as the worst hitter on our ballclub.
    1. Cutch
    2. Marte
    3. Kang
    4. Walker
    5. Cervelli
    6. Ramirez
    7. Polanco

    8. Alvarez
    How many teams can say the worst hitter in their lineup led the NL in HR’s a few years ago. He’s just fine in his role – he’s akin to a 5th starter. You’re all arguing over small potatoes.
    Yes, Texiera or Freeman would be awesom to add, but in this lineup he’s fine being the 8th best hitter. He should just hit 7th almost every night is all.

    • I’d rank Ramirez and Alvarez as similar and ahead of Polanco, at this point.

  • If they trade for a 1B they could just waive him and then hope for a deal.

    • Unless they get Lind, or i suppose LaRoche to some degree, they’d likely still see value in Pedro over just waiving him.

      • I have to disagree with that. He’s not a guy you’d keep on the bench. He can’t come in for defense, he can only play 1B, he’s not a very good situational hitter…if they get another 1B he is gonna be waived, someone will claim him, and a deal will be worked out for some C level prospect. At least that’s what I think would happen.

        • Im fuzzy on waiver rules, but i dont think anyone will trade for him if he’s making what he is currently making. I think the would wait for us to just release him and talk a lower deal.

          But again, the whole contract thing during a waiver wire trade is fuzzy at best for me.

  • Hoping that everyone stays healthy…now that we have A.Ramirez, what happens at 1B when Harrison and Mercer return? Is Pedro’s platoon already on the team?

  • Here is the UPDATE from Jayson Stark, according to MLBT:

    “The Pirates are now likely to hang onto Pedro Alvarez after shopping him without success for several weeks. They’ve asked the Brewers, White Sox and Rays about Adam Lind, Adam LaRoche and James Loney, respectively, but with Alvarez in the fold, they’re not likely to make a move at first. Stark adds that multiple sources downplayed the recent reports connecting Pittsburgh to the Red Sox‘ Mike Napoli.”


    I really hope that Jayson Stark has no clue what he’s talking about…because the Pirates really need some 1B help at least as far as someone who can hit lefties.

    • Jayson Stark is just reporting what industry people are telling him. Now, his sources very likely have their own agendas, so you have to take this all with a grain of salt.

      Let’s also remember that the deadline is 4 days away, and 90% of activity has yet to take place. Today’s dead deal is tomorrow’s blockbuster.

    • Trade deadline chatter reminds me of the famous quote about war, ” The first casualty of every war is the truth.”

  • What are the odds of getting Napoli to platoon with him?

  • No idea why people would (Stark) would jump to the conclusion that this “effectively ends the search” – we still have Ishi, and SRod… both could easily be upgraded over offensively, with matching defense.

  • I think we all agree that it shouldn’t end the pursuit of a RH platoon partner

    • Well said in one sentence Ben, and NMR had me laughing with his single sentence reply.

    • lonleylibertarian
      July 27, 2015 5:57 pm

      NO! I don’t want to trade ANY reasonable prospect [top 100] for Napoli or any Looney or Morse or any other dumpster trash. This team is very capable AS IS of winning the top wild card spot and clinching it far enough in advance to have Cole ready for the home play in game. Pedro is capable of putting a solid two months together – he is a genuine HR threat each at bat – LH or RH…

      If I was GM I would be willing to trade a package of prospects to the Dodgers for Scott Van Slyke – assuming his whiplash is not a big issue. RH hitter who can play all three OF and 1st base

      • I doubt Dodgers are willing to trade Van Slyke. Ethier, Crawford and maybe even Puig are more likely to be dealt before Van Slyke.

      • Scott Van Slyke absolutely cannot play an acceptable version of CF or LF in the massive PNC park. He’s barely played CF or LF as is. Its as bad as playing Ishikawa in LF, you basically pray nothing gets hit over his head.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    July 27, 2015 2:39 pm

    Question for whomever may know the answer….
    If a team trades for a rental – like the Royals just did for Cueto – and that rental opts for free agency the following year instead of re-signing with their new team, is that team eligible for a compensation draft pick like any other free agent loss (assuming they offered the player a QO)?

  • This feels like gamesmanship. First of all, if other teams’ front office guys are feeding Jayson Stark this information, it suggests they’ve inquired, which means there IS at least some interest in acquiring Pedro (the question being the cost, of course). In which case NH is just doing his due diligence in weeding out the serious buyers from the dumpster divers.

    I also don’t believe for a second that this has any bearing on whether NH would acquire another 1B. He’s only owed $2.3M through the end of the year and It’s not like they can’t find a place for him on the bench if they acquire Napoli or Lind.

    • Smart, Stephen.

      Can’t infer too much from a tweet, but the wording implies a directive from the Pirate’s end. It’s not like GM’s spend time calling up clubs telling them they’re no longer interested in trading a player that club doesn’t want.

      • Stick around – Doug Melvin is dumber than a box of rocks. He tried to add some offense in 2015, and in the process he traded away 2 of their best pitchers in Estrada and Gallardo. Their pitching dropped from #17 in 2014 to #24 presently, and all they have to show for it is Lind and a middle reliever, Corey Knebel. At this point getting rid of Lind is not possible even for him.

  • Poor decision if this report is true. They need a 1B. They should get a 1B, even if it relegates Alvarez to a bench role. It’s not like he can hurt his trade stock anymore than he already has. This trade season seems to be favoring the buyers, so why not go out and look at an Adam Lind or Chris Davis?

    • John Dreker( or anyone who knows)
      I have heard he will get a raise through arbitration………….but can you free yourself of that arbitration awarded salary by releasing him?

      • You could just non tender him I believe.

      • Follow up question…how much of a raise is he really going to get? Average at best offensively and pretty much agreed upon as the worst defensive 1B this year…he makes $5.75 mil so what is a reasonable assumption for what he would be awarded through arb?

        • With 40% of the season to go, that’s almost impossible to answer. What is known is the arbitration awards seem to favor traditional counting stats like HR, and tend to discount defense, so that benefits Pedro.

          The best guess right now is it’ll be in the $7-8.5m range.

          • I’ve read recently that advanced metrics and defense are beginning to play a bigger role in arbitration. Unless Pedro puts up big HR/RBI numbers between now and the end of the season I bet you’re looking at the low end of that amount.

            At which point, he’s not actually a terrible option relative to what we’ve seen lately in free agency.

            • I’m waiting for the 60% off sale on 0-1 WAR 1B this winter. Why pay full price?

              • Because that’s not actually how baseball works.

                Remind me what Adam Laroche and Mike Morse got last winter?

                • I’ll give Rick Hahn a pass on LaRoche. The terms of that deal were more than reasonable for a decent (127 wRC+) hitter moving to a hitter-friendly park, and he was signed primarily as a DH.

                  Dan Jennings, I can’t defend. This is the second offseason in a row that he’s paid starting 1B dollars – on a 2-year contract, no less – to a guy who profiles better as a bench/platoon bat.

                  Mark Reynolds signed for $2M. When you’re playing in the shallow end of the pool, even in small sample sizes, there is typically more supply than demand, which usually means lower cost options are available.

                  Especially this winter, when Mike Napoli, Reynolds and Garret Jones will be free agents, and Pedro, Logan Morrison, Ike Davis and maybe even Brandon Moss are all at some risk of being non-tendered. They’ll have jobs next year, and they’ll all project for the same win or fraction thereof, and while some of them will pull in $7-9M, others will be available for a fraction of that.

                  The point I’m making is, the Pirates won’t NEED to pay Pedro – or anyone else – $7M for a win or less of production. Hell, they could just move Neil Walker to 1B and call it a day. Or they could wait until the market clears and pick up one of the above for $3M or so and ride it out until Josh Bell is ready. They’ve put up with non-existent production from 1B throughout the renaissance, why quit now?

                  • I agree with this, Alvarez’s best offensive season has been 10 runs, so I don’t get paying $ 8 million to see if that happens, given the defensive issues, which are just perplexing.

                  • Spot on.

            • But he’s an above average baserunner 🙂

          • The question was based on him continuing with the rates he has produced at so far this yr. 7-8 was about what I figured. Am I crazy or is that not so bad assuming he can cut down the errors some?

            • That would be assuming he could do something he hasn’t done in 2 years. He would have to become an average defensive 1B or hit like the 2012-2013 Pedro to be worth that salary.

              • His actual worth wont really matter in arb, since he’s gonna get a raise. He’s not worth 7-8, but his raise will get him close.

                • What I’m saying is if the Pirates don’t believe he’s worth the likely raise, they won’t take him to arbitration, they’ll non-tender him and make him a free agent. They have that choice, and they exercised it with GI Jones and Gaby when their projected arb salaries were higher than their worth to the team, and if not for Oakland and its trade offer of a small sum of international draft slot money, Ike Davis would have met the same fate.

                  A lot could change over the next 60 games. Pedro could go caveman and play passable defense and convince NH there’s a good chance Pedro earns his arb award, which in turn makes it more likely Pedro is tendered or traded for something of value. But Mike’s scenario assumes Pedro’s current production continues, with maybe some modest defensive improvement. And in that case, you’re still looking at basically a replacement level guy, which almost certainly means a non-tender or another Ike Davis-like trade for bonus slot money. Either way, the Pirates won’t be in the hook, raise or no raise.

                  • That’s a fair argument, and if you value saving a few million bucks while risking another Corey Hart scenario then non tendering Alvarez is certainly worthwhile. It’s not like he’s been worth his salary this year and isn’t exactly showing huge strides defensively.

                    My point was that your chances of appreciably improving the position for what Alvarez will make or less isn’t very likely, and history shows that the “upper end” of those crappy players will likely require multi-year commitment (Morse, Jones, LaRoche).

                    It’s ironic to me that folks seem to consider Alvarez a finished product when many of the other players we’re talking about here didn’t hit until they were older than Alvarez is now. I’m not confident at all that the Pirates will be the team to figure it out, but there’s absolutely a serviceable platoon bat here for someone who can.

                    • I think we’re in agreement. Fishing in that pond is full of risks. I contend the notion that the upper end is less risky is just fallacy, but agents make good money off GMs who believe otherwise.

                      Speaking only for myself, the reason I consider Pedro a finished product is his production has slid dramatically over his two peak years, without injury factoring in at all. This is his level now, and it has been for a while. He could absolutely have a monster season or two left in him – or he could wander the desert for the next few years as a modern day Phil Plantier, each new GM picking him up on the cheap hoping to get that next 30 HR campaign. Whichever it is, the team that drafted and developed him over the last 7 years seems to have had its fill.

                    • I’d agree with you on the immediate past production if it was a result of a decline in his carrying skills, but that’s simply not the case.

                      This year Alvarez has shown marginally improved plate discipline with the same elite power (26% HR/FB, 309′ AVG Fly Ball Distance, 93mph AVG Exit Velo) that made him a viable platoon option, even at 1B/DH.

                      All that’s holding him back is an increase in ground ball rate, which I believe can be traced to the club making his swing more linear and flatter. I think moving a couple inches closer to the plate, spreading his stance back out, and adding loft back into his swing plane gets him hitting more fly balls. More fly balls means more usable power, and just twenty more points of ISO returns him back to ’12/’13 overall production without even considering any compounding benefits.

                      You’re absolutely correct, though. The Pirates don’t have the answer for him.

                    • I love what the Cubs have done to Anthony Rizzo moving him closer to the plate challenging pitchers to beat him inside where his pull power demolishes mistakes rather than what the Pirates do with Alvarez in keeping him further away challenging *him* to fix a weakness.

                      Always, always put your players in a position of strength.

                      The Cubs have managed to increase Rizzo’s fly ball rate 12% since he’s been with the club. Even half of that likely brings Alvarez back into 25-30 HR territory.

                  • Oh i think its a no doubter they just non tender him if they cant trade him this offseason. I dont think anything can change that at this point.

      • He’s not gonna get a huge raise. But it will be enough to render keeping him pointless. Actually, considering his defense he is making too much right now.

      • He can be released and become a FA for any team to sign at any price at or above minimum salary for player of his experience.

    • My sources tell me Neal Huntington is aware that Adam Lind and Chris Davis exist, and also that they play baseball near and/or at first base.

      • Very clever.

        • You gave me too much credit.

          Seriously, though, we’re far past the time where a GM starts “looking” at given players when they need they’d fill is so obvious.

          Huntington most likely isn’t willing to give up the prospects to get Lind intra-division, and the Orioles aren’t selling when they’re only three out of the wildcard with two teams to jump. Plus, with Davis likely to turn down a Qualifying Offer this winter the O’s would need a pretty valuable prospect in return for a couple months of Davis, who isn’t a very good baseball player.

          • Idk, I’ve seen rumors where the Orioles might well make Davis available. And I don’t think “intra-division” is much of a factor with trading anymore. If anything, we’ve already proven that Milwaukee doesn’t view that as an impediment or even something that would see them wanting to add value.
            In general, I want to keep the big name prospects no matter what, but after seeing what Cueto netted as a rental ace, I don’t believe the asking value for either Davis or Lind would be greater unless the market intensifies. What would be a comparable Cueto deal for the Pirates? Hanson, Angel Sanchez, and a decent throw in? If it costs about that or less than that for 2 years of Lind, then I would certainly consider pulling the trigger. But honestly, who is to say what anything will cost in one of the wackier deadlines I can remember.

            • It’s not Milwaukee that cares about trading within the division – it’s the team giving up the prospects with 6+ years of control that should care. Milwaukee is in for a long-term rebuild, so they hardly care if Adam Lind beats up on them for the next year and a half. He’ll be well into his next free agent contract by the time the Brewers are relevant again. The Cardinals and Pirates, on the other hand, have to think long and hard about arming a division rival with a player they may face 100+ times/20+ starts over the next 6 years.

      • lonleylibertarian
        July 27, 2015 5:59 pm

        Orioles are likely buyers at the deadline – not sellers – otherwise I would have added Davis to the SVS to the above post

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    July 27, 2015 2:16 pm

    Go get a RH platoon partner for Pedro ….

  • Find a platoon partner against lefties and I’m fine with this. Bat him 6th or 7th and hope he catches the ball.

    • Why would you “hope he catches the ball” in a pennant race? I just don’t see any reason to do this.

      • I meant if you’re stuck with him that’s where I’d bat him and then hope he literally catches the ball when thrown to him while fielding.

      • Shitty, shiiiitttyyy options as an alternative. Its Lind and an assortment of misfit toys.

  • In other words nh could not get more than a bag of balls and some line chalk for pedro, no surprise there. That this ends the search for a first baseman is just not the case. Still need pitching and a first bagger would be the icing on the cake.

  • Michael Shaeffer
    July 27, 2015 2:06 pm

    I’ve been an Alvarez guy since Day One. Would love to see him back next year as a stop gap until Bell is ready.

    But, with the money he will be owed next year, I can see why letting him go might be the best option for the Pirates.

    • I am not on top of what happens if Pedro is released at the end of the year.
      Can the pirates do that without any further financial obligation to him? If he is traded, does that team have an obligation to him or can he be released at the end of the year by that team? I thought he was arbitration eligible…….but can he be released before arbitration?

    • Michael Shaeffer, could you give an explanation of why you would love to see Pedro back? I just am trying to understand what he does that still makes you believe he has any business being in the NL and in the field?

      • I am a Pedro backer, but I also agree he needs to put something together in terms of results to be worth the money next year. In brief, here are some reason I see for optimism:

        1. Defensively, this is his first year at 1B. He will improve.
        2. He has cut K rate way down. He is swinging at fewer balls outside the zone.
        3. He is still hitting the ball hard, as evidenced by his low soft-hit percentage (51st lowest, right behind guys like Rizzo, Moss, Longoria, A Gon), his fly ball distance (7th best), and batted ball velocity (8th best of players with >100 AB)

        The thing that is really weird about this season — and the only thing I can find wrong with his peripherals — is that his GB/FB ratio is way out of whack. It was as high as 2.10 earlier this year, which is what it was in his lost season of 2011. From 2012-2014 GB/FB ratios were between 1.16-1.36.

        However, if you look at his monthy GB rate, it was 60% in April, 54% in May, 50% in June and July. If he can get it just a little lower, into the mid 40s, where he was from 2012-2014, we should see the HRs return, along with a higher average than ever before due to the lower K rate,

        It’s almost like he took apart his approach in order to become a more complete hitter, and he’s almost got it all back together. Of course, that’s just speculation from an outsider. I would love to hear whether it’s true or not.

        • This sounds suspiciously like a Tiger Woods swing reconstruction 🙂

          Much as many of us would like for Pedro to move on and get a fresh start, you have to admit, when he’s up there at the plate and the team is down by a run or two, part of you thinks this is the time that he’s going to come through.

          And no part of you thinks SRod is coming through in that same situation.

        • A counter to your optimism, though –

          1) it is only taken on faith that his defense would improve given another year of playing 1B. His positioning may improve, but he’s not catching the ball, and he’s still throwing it away. That’s where most of his errors and non-plays come from, and those won’t improve with additional seasoning.

          2) His K rate is actually even with last year, but his walk rate is down, so he’s still not helping himself when he doesn’t put the ball in play. And while he has the highest contact rate of his career, that extra contact isn’t doing anything for him, as evidenced by the sustained low BABIP.

          3) He IS hitting the ball hard. Mostly on the ground. And he has an historically high HR/FB, so even if he starts elevating the ball a bit more over the next two months, he could well be trading ground outs for fly outs if that HR/FB regresses to career norms.

          Pedro has always been a mixed bag, always an adjustment or two away from putting it all together. He’s also in his peak years, and still hasn’t broken through, and it’s absolutely fair to wonder if this is all he’ll ever be.

        • Even if all of what you say about his bat comes to fruition, there’s still the matter of his defense. His offense just isn’t consistent enough to overcome his shortcomings on defense. Not now, maybe not ever again. That’s why he’s below replacement level player now, and not much better when his bat is right.

        • His defense is probably not gonna get better. It is ridiculous to think it would improve more than just slightly. I love metrics and all the stats you gave as much as anyone but to imply Pedro is due for some type of breakout at 28-29 years old is just off the charts optimism. You have to look at the body of work. It’s not good.

  • I am not against the idea of keeping Pedro. I’d like to see the Bucs win it all with him as a member of the team. That said, I don’t know why Stark thinks this “would effectively end their hunt for other 1B upgrades.” We could still use a right-handed platoon option (like Napoli, but hopefully better…)

  • I cannot imagine, without a huge end to the season for Pedro, that he does not get released at the end of this season.

    As I mentioned in the other article…I agree that Stark must be crazy to think the Pirates are not going to try to upgrade the position at least from the RH side. Napoli would do that both offensively (against lefties) and defensively.

    I really hope the Pirates did not look at Alvarez two homers and think “man he’s going to get on one of his hot streaks…we should keep him”…I hope its more, as you indicated John, that no one offered them anything at all for him.

    • Zachary Asman
      July 27, 2015 2:17 pm

      I can GUARANTEE you that what Pedro did last series has nothing to do with the front offices mindset of him.

      You and I both know Neal Huntington is too pragmatic of an operator to be duped by that logic.