The Pittsburgh Pirates have non-tendered first baseman Pedro Alvarez and outfielder Jaff Decker, per a team press release. Both players immediately become free agents. All other unsigned players have been tendered contracts. The 40-man roster is now at 38.

The fact that the Pirates are moving on from Alvarez isn’t surprising at all. The writing has been on the wall for that one all off-season. The biggest question here was whether they would tender him a contract and try to deal him, or non-tender him and get nothing. The former came with the risk that they’d be stuck with him for his projected $8.1 M salary, and the potential return wasn’t going to be great. They obviously didn’t want to take that risk.

This ends the Alvarez era in Pittsburgh. He was the second overall pick in 2008, and was supposed to be a guy who could carry the franchise. He never really did that, but did have a few productive years before dropping to a replacement level player the last two years. He had a lot of power, but that was pretty much it, and his horrible defense at first base negated any value the bat had.

It will be interesting to see what kind of deal Alvarez receives on the open market. The Astros just non-tendered Chris Carter. Mark Trumbo was traded yesterday for a backup catcher. The value seems to be pretty low on the all-power, no defense first basemen. There could be some value as a designated hitter for Alvarez, but that still wouldn’t have landed much in a trade.

The decision to non-tender Decker was a bit of a surprise. He was out of options, and they could have tendered him a deal and then waived him later. He didn’t project to make the roster next year, so this was an inevitable move. It also increases the odds of someone like Keon Broxton making the team in a bench role. This isn’t an uncommon move, as they have non-tendered pre-arb guys in previous years, mostly when they were out of options and had the ability to elect free agency if they were outrighted off the roster during the off-season.

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134 COMMENTS

  1. I think they need to look at either posting an aggressive bid for Jae-gyun Hwang for infield depth or Hyun Soo Kim who is not being posted, but wants to come to MLB as an FA. He can play either 1B or outfield. Given the precedence set by Park just recently, both guys should be affordable. Neither might be as good Kang, but both could be low cost, sneaky good pickups.

  2. Can’t argue with the Pedro decision, but I still don’t know how to read the other moves regarding first base.
    It does not seem appropriate to run Morse out there everyday, which suggests an alternative, preferably a left-handed hitter. Did management make a mistake in not protecting Lambo, or do they think Goebbert is better?

    • Goebbert is probably more outfielder than first baseman, and his acquisition is what makes non-tendering Decker sensible. Basically the same player, but with more power potential.

      I really don’t see what they’re going to do with 1B. They’ve shown absolutely no ability to acquire stopgap veterans, and apparently aren’t interested in multi-year guys with Bell on the way. More likely to flush more cash down the toilet.

      • Morse could actually work out. I thought he actually did well in his limited opportunities here last year. I thought he should have played more.

  3. I actually think the Decker move at this time was a class act by the PBC – gives him time to find a team where he could get an invite to camp and have a real chance at making to team – Phillies – Orioles – Indians – Rays all would seem to be possible fits – maybe a few others.

  4. An AL team needs to sign Pedro as a DH & also try him in RF. He has the arm & enough speed & athleticism. Don’t know if he can field fly balls.

    • Folks may laugh, and it almost certainly won’t actually happen, but is Alvarez really much slower than, say, Jay Bruce? Hell, Carlos Beltran can barely run at this point and was still half as bad, according to the numbers, as Pedro was at first.

      I’d love to see him cut 20 pounds and try it out. Best arm on the team not named Marte. And that’s probably really close.

  5. I will with hold my judgement of the move based on who they replace Pedro with. If we bring back Rodriquez or some like him and suggest he can do the job at first I will not be happy. If they bring in a real 1B then all is good. I like Morse but he is way to brittle to count on without a back up plan.

  6. Henderson Alvarez was non-tendered. He won’t be ready til May-ish but he’s just 25 and has a lot of talent…

    • I posted that I agreed with someone who said the same thing last night. Even if it’s June or July before he’s ready, IMO I believe he’d be a great pickup.

      There were also a few relievers who would fit nicely.

      • A good arm is a good arm, but you wonder how they’d see adding someone who looks to be ready around the same theoretical time as Taillon and Glasnow?

        • You are right if the theoretical time would work out. Both Taillon and Glasnow have issues, Taillon with his limited experience and needing to build up his arm and Glasnow concerning his walks and inability to hold baserunners.
          There’s currently an opening for a #3 starter which needs to be filled and this should be the last season for Morton, currently a #4. Locke’s future is up in the air.
          Good arms being good arms, how does a rotation of Cole, Liriano, Alvarez, Glasnow and Taillon look if all are healthy.
          If you would, I’d like to get your input on who you’d like to see signed this offseason.
          Thanks.

          • Really f*cking good. That’s how I think that healthy rotation would look. 😉

            I, personally, am a bigger believer in Taillon’s realistic outcome than Glasnow’s. Upside, no, but I really think Taillon is more of a pitcher, and Glasnow a thrower. Sort of the pitching equivalent of preferring a player with a better hit tool vs one with more raw power. That being said, I have little doubt Glasnow will be able to get ML batters out at least enough to be a solid 4/5 by the second half of 2016.

            In the meantime, though, I’m preparing for some choppy waters. That #3 starter no longer exists in free agency, at least not for the Pirates. Either a reclamation arm like Masterson or even Morton/Locke could certainly fake it for a while, though I think that’s probably about a 30% chance. That #3 will have to come through trade if it happens; Clay Bucholtz could be fantastic under Searage, and even Wade Miley probably isn’t much worse than JA Happ, if at all. Polanco+ might be able to snag one of Cleveland’s non-Kluber aces. Taking James Loney’s contract plus sending an outfielder prospect like Harold Ramirez might get the now-good Drew Smyly from Tampa.

            Not sure I see any other fits around the league, though. Who do you like out of that bunch? (“None” is also a fine answer 🙂 )

            • Not too high on Masterson. Like Miley if the cost isn’t real high. Bucholtz or a Cleveland starter would be nice fits. Only problem with the Indians would be replacing Polanco. No thanks to Loney. Not as high on Ramirez as most, so with the right deal, Smyly would be okay.

              Can’t recall the guy who has shown some interest in the Bucs who finished the year in the Cubs BP, but like with most FAs it’s all about the money. Also Like Stammen, cut loose by the nats. Good bet as a long man.

              Agree on your outlook with Taillon>Glasnow.

              • Not a Masterson fan either, at least not after the shoulder injuries, but he has shown mid-rotation upside when healthy if you want to dream.

                I wouldn’t want much to do with Loney himself, but Tampa’s trying to shed that salary and would rather spend money than extra prospects.

                You’re probably thinking of Trevor Cahill from the Cubs, who I like as well. Ccraig Stammen could be sneaky good depth out of the pen, I like it.

                • Cahill was the man!
                  Since Stammen has not been in the rotation he has been good. Think he’d be glad to get away from the Nats. The nontender took care of that.
                  Another name nontendered, by the Giants, was Yusmeiro Petit. His arb cost was expected to be $2.4MM. IMO underappreciated there.
                  Someone threw out a possible trade on MLTR, Walker to the Angels for Hector Santiago, a LH SP valued at $5.1. Problem would be getting a replacement for Walker.

            • I had/have high hopes for JT. If this kid stays healthy, he has it all. Prior to the injuries, I thought he would be better than Cole. He still may . All I know is the thought of what our rotation could be is pretty exciting. If the perfect storm came together, even if it was short lived, that rotation could rival a young 90’s Braves staff. I know that’s saying a lot but with the ceiling that each one of those guys has just think about it…

  7. Well, at this point you have come to a cross-roads haven’t we?
    You have those who call the team cheap seeing the team fail to spend even small dollars on a key player – and management who is preaching defense and pitching and value.
    You also have championship aspirations and a roster of capable players who will obviously want to see those dollars reallocated in a way that supports the end goal.

    So if that happens – we’ll be able to continue to follow along with the BMTIB…. but if it doesn’t then the complainers about spending and Nutting will have all new fodder to use for the next year plus.

    I for one hope NH has one heck of followthrough plan, and a few rehab pitchers isn’t going to cut it IMO. For now I’ll be patiently waiting to see how it plays out.

  8. Possibly the most appropriate application of the wise American proverb: “I hate to see you go but I love to watch you leave.”

    Am I doing it right?

    • You know the fact he couldnt hit lefties probably hurt him more than the fielding. Cant pinch hit for a DH. Especially late in a ballgame.

  9. Winter meetings are next week. I guess we’ll know a lot more by next friday. I trust the process but I’m still leery of going into the season with Michael Morse keeping the bench warm until Josh Bell is ready.

  10. I was on the fence with what they should do with Pedro. I could see reasons to keep and the release him. But since hearing the news I’ve been sort of bummed out all morning. I guess I now know how I really felt about it. Always rooted for him but never has one player frustrated me like he did. Hate to see him gone but wish him the best. In the AL that is!

  11. Its a shame we couldn’t get at least a low level prospect for the former #1 overall draft pick, but the Pirates did the right thing in not tendering Alvarez – they could not afford having him play the field and costing the team with his horrid defense. Puts to close the chapter on another bad first round draft pick. Yes, he hit 130+ HRs, but given where he was drafted, the expectations were much, much higher.
    Jaff Decker? What will we do without him next year?? Closed the chapter on that ill advised trade.

    • #2 Pick. Tim Beckham was drafted ahead of him. I’m sure at this point the Rays would rather have David Beckham.

  12. Ok, a question, if you are Pedro…. Are you now looking for a
    one year contract or something like three years?

    How much do you think he now gets as a “free agent?”

    • Everyone thinks Boras is a mastermind but you only have to look at JD Drew who turned down millions thinking a great payoff was at hand. I think if someone will give him three years with $25-$30 million he would be crazy to turn that down. I think he will get about $4 million on a one year deal. He will only be a DH the remaining years of his career.

    • 1 year deal. If it goes over 5, ill be surprised. Probably be a popular deadline player with a low risk deal. Power off the bench pinchhitter, lefty DH.

  13. 23 errors vs. 27 homers is an oversimplification. Its more like 23 errors + dozens of boneheaded plays vs. 27 homers, 20 or so of which were solo shots.

    Pedro was a headcase on offense too – whenever Hurdle tried to put him in any traditional run producing lineup spot, he immediately went into a slump.

    Will miss him though – seems like a genuinely good person who worked hard. And he really could change the game with one swing. At least he was more productive than Bryan Bullington…

    • Correct. How many throwing errors attributed to the other infielders because Pedro was not in position or flat out didn’t catch them…..at least 6 that I can remember.

  14. Really enjoyed the discussion yesterday, folks. Great idea, Tim.

    Not so much having to work this weekend due to getting nothing done. Thanks Oba- er, Pedro.

  15. Carter is in the same awful defense group – Trumbo is not – he plays a middle of the pack first base – OK – not great.

    Now that he is done in Pittsburgh and knowing that he is a Boras client I expect to start hearing little bits of info on how Pedro was never really appreciated by Hurdle and others. That the Bucs did little to help him become a better player – and in fact made it clear that he was not “their kind of guy”

    Boras has a number of media shills who I am sure will be glad to “leak” out a story or two,

    The Bucs are a team that should have one rule going into the draft or free agency – never deal with a Boras client.

    There is ZERO chance Cole signs anything long term with the Pirates.

    • Don’t know anything about Trumbo, but I’m inclined to agree with your points re: Boras. IMO, Boras engineered the whole signing mess. That got Pedro off on the wrong foot w/r/t rushing his development and seeming to place the interests of the player above that of the team. Left a bad taste in my mouth, for sure.

      I understand Boras’ job is to represent his clients’ best interests. I also understand that the Pirates’ status as a small-market, relatively low-revenue team makes them not a good match for Boras’ clients. They may choose to or be forced to deal w/Boras and his clients in the future, with the understanding that the term of the relationship is likely to be limited, and always with the question in mind: How much trouble is this worth to us?

      Final thought: Could there be a connection between The Pirates’ recent selection as the Best Organization in Baseball, and their decision to non-tender Pedro?

  16. Does anyone for even a second think teams like the Cards and Chubs will sign Pedro??? His forte is hitting second line right handed pitching. I would not sign him to being a part time DH.

  17. David Ortiz hit 20 HRs the year he was no tendered by the Twinks. Next year had a 960 OPS. This isn’t like Batista, the odds are good Pete has monster 2016.

    Still doesn’t mean he should wear a glove. Real losers are AL GMs who wouldn’t cough up a mediocre prospect for a young HR champ.

    • How do the AL GMs lose? Today every one of them can negotiate with Pedro without any possibility of arbitration and without giving a thing to the Pirates. No way Pedro will get a $8 million deal now from anyone. More likely he will get a one year deal for $5 million or so.

      Pedro loses because he will be paid less and the Pirates lose because they will never capitalize on the 2008 #2 Overall pick. Truthfully though non-tendering Pedro might end up being the best thing for all concerned. Pedro wasn’t going to be a star here. The kick in the ass and change of scenery he will now get might just get him to a better situation and the Pirates now have an opportunity to find a better first baseman. It ain’t a win win but it doesn’t have to be a lose lose either.

      • Bet you a Pedro Pirate Jersey that Boras finds a spot for him where he gets a deal that is closer to $8M than $5M – probably has several calls today to return to AL GMs…

        I was visiting my grandkids in Seattle last year and took them to a Mariners – Red Sox game in late May – of the 18 batters in the starting line up 4 were batting below .200 – 8 were batting between .200 and .240.

        Just 6 were hitting over .240.

        People do not realize how bad offense has gotten in baseball.

        Pedro can become Big Pappy II – in fact I would not put it past the Red Sox to try and get him to apprentice Ortiz doing Pappy’s final season if they can put together a 3 year deal with a team option or two…

        The Pirates had NO leverage – and every other GM knew it.

        • Sox picked up Tim Wakefield as a castoff, iffy HOFer. Then they sign Big Pappy as non-tender… Good chance HOFer.

          You are correct. Boston should be on the phone with him right now.

  18. I am a Pedro Fan, but understand the Business!! All those errors cost us the division!!! This team has been built on Defense!! So I understand the move!!!

    • Not starting him in the WC game was a remarkable statement by management, and a clear indicator of this move. The contradictions did become too much of a distraction. The St. Louis Cardinals did not want to pitch to the guy. Balls crushed into the river, and bouncing off the web of his glove. Losing the ability to make the routine throw from third and the routine catch at first. Why does he crush the ball in daylight games? Good luck Pedro……by all accounts a good man who may very well get it all straight with a new club.

  19. Would of, could of, should of sums up Pedro. Lots of potential but never came through, last of the high pick bust. Yes he was a bust #2 over all pick and you can’t throw or catch, not good! 27 HR will be missed for sure, but not the D and him being an overall distraction to the team.

  20. I was hoping Pirates could get something, anything, for Pedro. Too bad.

    I’m hoping Pedro lands on his feet on an AL roster. By all accounts, he’s a good dude who just happened to lose it defensively.

    Clearly Pirates value their ability to prevent runs without him more than score runs with him. Hard to argue against this line of thinking.

    As for replacing his power, I don’t see that as a huge deal. I prefer higher contact hitters to the HR or strikeout type players any ways.

  21. Hmmmm…Pedro I understand (don’t agree with, but understand), but Decker?

    Seems if they were going to cut ties with Decker, they should have done it earlier and kept Lambo around as 1B depth.

  22. Drafting Pedro really brought some excitement back to the Pirates. I was a buck fan before, but would check this site every day for his minor league box scores

  23. I’ve seen that pic above of Pedro flipping the ball to the bag and can’t help but envisioning flying into the third row.

  24. I have no problem with this if they spend the money elsewhere. For all his faults, Pedro had a lot of value at times. But 8-10 million could go a long way to helping the Pirates sign a good starting pitcher. I’d like to see an aggressive move toward a top shelf SP somehow. Trade or signing. Locke and Morton plus some unknown 3rd pitcher are not going to do it.

  25. The real sad thing about this whole article is that no one is going to comment on our loss of Jaff Decker. Poor guy is just a throw-in added to a big piece of information.

    • And he has some crazy small-sample-size stats in his Pirates career.

      In 2014, he swung at just 11% of pitches outside the zone and still had a swinging strike rate of 35%.

      In 2015, he swung at just 38% of pitches he saw, and managed to walk 19% of the time.

      He’ll go down in Pirates history for his 8 runs scored on just 6 hits.

      Alright… that’s about all the Jaff Decker insight I have.

  26. A shame really!!!! Pedro truly wants to be a special player. He certainly has the bat for it! Some of the long balls that he hammered were amazing and awesome. I for one hope that Pedro manages to find a situation (DH somewhere in the AL) where his talent with the bat will be maximised, and his limitations in the field (to some extent psychological??) will not distract him from his hitting. I think Pedro could easily mash 30 HRs per year for many years to come. But the problem was that his defensive liabilities and inconsistency had become such a drawback that he doesn’t have a place with the Pirates anymore. And a pity that he apparently had no trade value, and that other clubs were content to wait until he was non-tendered. So in the end probably Pedro will go down as a disappointment for the No. 2 overall draft choice in 2008. I guess the consolation is that the Rays missed also on the No. 1 overall, Tim Beckham, and that the only player from that 1st round who really has done well has been Buster Posey. Shows the draft as a real carp-shoot! One can only hope that Josh Bell will prove to be the genuine article and at least an above-average MLB player & hopefully a star – he seems to have the optimistic personality to be “star quality”, let’s hope so! It all shows that finding a quality 1b is not so easy after all!

    • I’ll mail you $10 if you put at least 2 paragraph indents in posts.

      That post could be full of the greatest insight i’ve ever seen….and id not read it because holy word mash.

      • Well Luke you will have to email the $10 to me since I live in the Land Down Under!

        We Aussies do not know how to indent – but I have now done so and you and other readers of P2 can now easily have the benefit of my scintillating intellect and brilliant insights without being overtaxed by the lack of paragraphing!

        O by the way, along with shooting carp, watching cricket is our national past-time, along with “cuddling’ “Koala bears” and watching kangaroos hop down the streets of our cities!!!

        As we say – “Cheers, mate!”

  27. Just wondering where all this freed up money will be “reallocated”. If I had to guess one place would be a Cervelli extension. But they have some spending to do just to get to last year, right? I don’t know.

    • Right now I’ve got them projected for $93 M with no additions.

      They need a starting pitcher and some bench/bullpen guys at the least. And that’s before considering what they need to do at 2B or the bullpen if Walker or Melancon are traded.

      • I’m sure they will have interest in some of the players nontendered.
        But with Pedro gone, ill be surprised if Walkers traded now.
        Thank you for the coverage. Learn a lot here from you and your staff as well as the commenters.
        Nite, gents.

      • Don’t they need a 1st baseman or are you suggesting they’re going into 2016 with Josh Bell, Mike Morse and someone named Jake Goebbert??? That’s a joke!

      • Tim, If they want to keep up within their division, they will have to up their payroll to about $120m. Doing wisely will be the tricky part.

        • If this team takes the mindset that they have to spend like STL and CHC to compete with them, they will lose to those teams a good deal of the time.

          Which isnt to say they cant/shouldnt spend more, but that the silly notion that we gotta spend more like STL and CHC means we will be a better team. We arent those teams, we cant spend like those teams.

    • Fix 1b by moving walker over. Then jayhey to 2b after kang returns. You can fill in 2b with utility until kang is back. Done. Spend the money on pitching.

  28. Too bad Pedro put the Pirates in the position they had to cut him. If he could hit lefties and play decent defense, of course they would have kept him. Management and the fan base are equally disappointed that he did not become the force that he could have been, no matter how much Scott Boras postures…

    • Over the last week, I thought a lot of the AL teams had their own “problems” at 1st and DH, and had no intention of trading for 8 million dollars worth of another one.

      Fascinated where Pedro ends up anyway though.

            • Maybe.But Bell could use a full year at AAA to adjust his swings for more power. I think he comes up mid season only if Morse underperforms.

              • Totally fair. But I will say doubles count for some power. I dont know if Bells average will be over .300 but he can draw a walk, looks like.

                The Pirates could end up looking like the Royals. Not a lot of HRs, but guys like Cutch, Kang, Bell, Cervelli and Polanco banging balls all over the field and off the wall. Occasionally Marte Partay.

                Sorry, trying to be optimistic this morning. One thing I dont understand, if you are going to play small ball, why trade your closer; weaken your pen. Should be trying to strengthen it.

                • I hope they keep Melancon.

                  I actually think Polanco’s power could spike next year. Sometimes he connects and the ball just jumps off his bat. Better swing plane and a more confident mind set and he could hit 25 plus HR. He is built like a beast.

  29. Not sure how I feel about it. You know he’s ganna go to the AL and hit .290 with 45 hrs and 120 rbis. I kid. I hope. Looks like Morse is the guy until Bell is ready. Hope they put the projected 8.1 M to good use.

  30. Don’t throw good money after bad. A bust as a defensive player, might help an AL team as a cheap DH but in the end we couldn’t get anything in return. Might have had we tendered him but not worth the gamble. Good riddance.

  31. It’s amazing how much baseball has changed. I can’t think of a time when someone with this much power is just cut. Not sure how I feel about it, but I do remember Pedro coming up with some huge hits in the Cardinals playoff series fondly. He was always just a hot streak away from carrying the team. I will miss locked in Pedro. The other 90 games a year and the D not so much. It will hurt to see him hit 40 for an AL club in the next few years. Good luck Pedro!

    • Agree with you and my hat is off to the folks who predicted a non-tender. It is really scary that teams who have a need for a LH power hitting DH (and there are many in the AL) would rather deal with Scott Boras for his services rather than pony up a decent trade piece. I am sure NH made his intentions abundantly clear to interested teams, but it is what it is – nobody thought he was worth $8 mil and losing a decent player/pitcher.

      This should send a clear message to Neal Walker and Mark Melancon. Although Walker was in the bottom third of qualified 2B defensively, he still returned enough of a WAR to justify tendering a contract, especially when adding in the doubt regarding Kang. But he and MM will be gone if somebody comes asking.

      • I wonder if there is a focused effort to get better defensively. Always thought Harrison was better at 2nd than 3rd. They’ll lose a lot of power, but just by subtracting Alvarez/Walker the defensive metrics have to get better.

        • Gotta feel good about a defense of Kang-Mercer-Harrison-anyone but Pedro.

          Even with Walker at 2B, thats a fine defense since we shift Walker enough to make his total lack of range functional.

        • Harrison has hit well, and would be a VG defensive 2B, but this team needs a leadoff hitter, and Harrison just does not fit that criteria. He’s a free-swinger, very few Walks, and only average at best footspeed. In the last 2 years he has 938 AB’s with only 41 Walks while striking out about 4 times as often with 152 K’s. He has attempted 43 steals with 28 SB’s/15 CS’s for a 65% success rate – in 2015 he had 10 SB’s and 8 CS’s.

          Going into 2016 the Pirates lack a leadoff hitter and a LH power hitter to put somewhere behind ‘Cutch. If we are going to move some guys, then we need to find someone to fit those slots. Hanson can field as well as anyone we have at 2B at any level, but can he hit? One way or another we need to find out if he is going to be a ballplayer for us or whether we just need to move on, and find someone elsewhere.

          • Meh on Hanson. He got a boatload of guys behind him starting with Moroff and Frazier.

            Those guys are also why we could be having these same trade discussions over JHay next year .

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