The Baltimore Orioles are adding home run power as the team has reportedly agreed to a one-year, $5.75 million deal with former Pittsburgh Pirates’ infielder Pedro Alvarez, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
Sherman adds that Alvarez can earn up to $1.25 million through incentives. Rich Dubroff of Comcast Sportsnet has the full breakdown of Alvarez’s potential earnings.
Alvarez will receive $200,000 each for reaching 350, 400, 450, 500 and 550 at-bats. He’ll be paid an additional $250,000 for 600 at-bats.
— Rich Dubroff (@RichDubroffCSN) March 8, 2016
The deal is pending a physical, which is “nearly complete,” per Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. Alvarez’s deal will likely become official at some point today.
After missing out on the likes of Yoenis Cespedes, Dexter Fowler, and others, the Orioles will look to Alvarez to provide a power boost. With first and third base occupied by Chris Davis and Manny Machado, Alvarez will likely see most of his at-bats as the designated hitter.
Fellow offseason acquisition Mark Trumbo — who will likely see time in the outfield against left-handed pitchers — figures to platoon at DH with Alvarez. This signing likely caps off a busy offseason for the Orioles, who have re-signed Matt Wieters and Darren O’Day while recently inking right-hander Yovani Gallardo.
Alvarez, 29, was somewhat surprisingly non-tendered by the Pirates in early December, ending his six-year run with the team. Last season, Alvarez’s struggles to make consistent contact persisted as he batted a meager.243 through 150 games. His home run power was still an asset, however, as he hit 27 HR and drove in 77 runs.
A former second overall pick in the 2008 MLB Draft, Alvarez quickly ascended up the Pirates’ farm system, ranking as high as the eightth best prospect in baseball prior to the 2010 season.
Making his debut in June, 2010, Alvarez showed off the power that many projected would make him a perennial All-Star. In 95 games, the Dominican-born slugger batted.256 with 16 HR and 64 RBI. In particular, a September hot streak helped pad his overall stats as he hit.311 with 26 RBI in his last 27 games — earning himself NL Rookie of the Month honors.
Unfortunately, that success didn’t carry over into 2011 as injuries and poor play limited him to just 74 games. Alvarez finished 2011 hitting an unsightly.191 with four HR and 19 RBI.
Things turned around the next season with Alvarez discovering a consistent home run stroke. While his strikeout totals remained high — whiffing 180 times in 2012 — Alvarez smacked 30 HR and 85 RBI for the Pirates while hitting.244. It was a step in the right direction, culminating with the best year of his career the following season.
Despite hitting just.233 and leading the National League with 186 strikeouts, Alvarez produced a career-high 36 HR and 100 RBI for the Pirates in 2013. Those 36 homers tied for the most in the NL and paved the way for Alvarez to compete in his first Home Run Derby. He made his first NL All-Star team and won Silver Slugger honors at third base, too.
The next season is when Alvarez’s offensive and defensive struggles got the best of him. By August 3, 2014, Alvarez had already committed 24 errors at third base. The Pirates elected to move him off the hot corner and slowly transitioned him to first base to keep his bat in the lineup.
That was the story for much the past two seasons in Pittsburgh for Alvarez. The Pirates have Josh Harrison plugged at third base a platoon of John Jaso and Michael Morse at first base, which made Alvarez expandable.
[Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images]