There is perhaps no question mark as big as what will happen to Pirates third basemen turned first baseman Pedro Alvarez. The former number two overall pick all but lost the ability to throw the ball to first base last season complicating his career trajectory. Alvarez has power, there is no doubt about it, but like many power hitters he also strikes out at an alarming pace.
While he may never become the superstar that was envisioned when he was drafted out of Vanderbilt it seemed for a while that Alvarez was on track to become a serviceable major league starter with the ability to hit 30 plus home runs a season. However he struggled to hit above .200 or a large part of last season and the addition of his sudden inability to field his position created a scenario in which he simply couldn’t be in the lineup. They eventually moved him to first to eliminate the throwing problem and the hitting picked up, but not enough.
During the winter meetings the Pirates seemed to have offered him to everybody for anything and while a few rumors emerged it seemed that no one was willing to give anything of value up for a year of Alvarez and that is the exact problem the Pirates face. Alvarez will demand big money next year and if some team is willing to give it to him then best of luck. The Pirates will almost immediately be priced out of the situation because they will not be willing to invest any more into Alvarez and his quirks.
Alvarez has also been fairly public about his desire to return to his home of New York City, meaning this first crack at free agency will be his first chance to go home and he will likely take it if the Mets or Yankees are willing to have him.
But let’s get real for a second…. Who is going to want Alvarez?
He seems to have Mark Reynolds written all over him. Potential source of power, likely source of stress and heartbreak. It never came together for Alvarez for whatever reason, yet given his pedigree he will be given multiple chances. If the Pirates are smart, and I truly believe they are, they will let him go as soon as it is logical.
Best case scenario: Alvarez has a good start to the season and they package him with another player to make a midseason trade.
Worst case scenario: Alvarez fails at first, becomes a barely acceptable major leaguer and the Pirates lose him at the end of the season and get nothing in return for a player they invested the number two overall pick in.
Most likely scenario: Alvarez has a mediocre start and is traded for next to nothing. He goes on to have a disappointing career in the majors, yet sticks around for the next decade simply due to the fact he was once the second overall pick.