Lefty slugger Pedro Alvarez is a limited player, but he’s just thirty years of age and is coming off of a season in which he slashed .249/.322/.504 with 22 long balls in just 376 plate appearances. Most of the damage, as usual, came against righty pitching. And Alvarez is best kept away from a fielding glove (though he did see time last year at third base). But he has actually generated positive baserunning ratings of late, and the overall package still makes him a potent DH option and bench bat — the same basic formula that landed him a $5.75MM contract last year from the Orioles.
On the one hand, we’ve seen other such hitters fall shy of expectations. Adam Lind, for example, took just $1.5MM from the Nationals. And older lefty sluggers such as Ryan Howard and Justin Morneau also remain available. (The right-handed Billy Butler, among others, also has yet to sign.) Of course, it’s easy to forget that Alvarez waited until March to sign last year, so perhaps it’d be unwise to count out agent Scott Boras’s ability to find money when it’s least expected.
As team sort through their internal options, perhaps an injury or renewed assessment could turn the tide for Alvarez. While it would be foolish to overstate his impact at this stage — he’s no longer an everyday third baseman who can provide over thirty long balls — there’s little reason to think that Alvarez isn’t a useful MLB player. And the fact that he can still handle third base in a pinch doesn’t hurt.
Here are seven landing spots that make some degree of sense; weigh in with your pick in the poll below.
- White Sox [Current Depth Chart] — Chicago currently projects to have quite an unproven MLB roster on Opening Day, and yet more holes could open if the club pulls off a spring trade or two. Unless the team shifts Melky Cabrera to the DH hole, that spot is wide open at present. Adding the veteran hitter might help keep fans in the seats and ease the transition that the club is overseeing.
- Twins [Current Depth Chart] — Though Kennys Vargas, Byung Ho Park, and Robbie Grossman currently factor in the picture as DH candidates in Minnesota, there has been some rumored interest — though there are also indications that it’s overstated. The Twins do have good reason to see what they have in that trio, though perhaps the club could also see the merit in adding a proven slugger to the stable.
- Rangers [Current Depth Chart] — If we suppose that Shin-soo Choo is still deemed capable of playing the outfield without yet another injury, and that Texas still isn’t sold on Joey Gallo, then perhaps there’s still some room for Alvarez on the roster. Alvarez’s camp reportedly tried to get the Rangers to bite before they added Mike Napoli, but it’s not clear whether the interest as reciprocated.
- Athletics [Current Depth Chart] — Catcher Steven Vogt and first baseman Yonder Alonso both hit from the left side, and each could spend time at DH, but adding Alvarez would give the team another weapon against righties. Even if power prospect Ryon Healy is on the roster, the right-handed hitter would still have plenty of opportunities at the corner infield spots as well as the DH hole.
- Orioles [Current Depth Chart] — It’s a bit of a stretch at this point, but if Baltimore is willing to give Mark Trumbo time in right field, Alvarez could make a return. That’d likely mean punting on Rule 5 picks Anthony Santander and Aneury Tavarez, and perhaps passing over a third lefty hitting outfielder in Michael Bourn, but the O’s have not shied away from loading up on sluggers in recent years.
- Mariners [Current Depth Chart] — This really comes down to one question: does Seattle fully believe in Dan Vogelbach? The young southpaw slugger is slated to battle for playing time with Danny Valencia at first base, but if the M’s feel he’s not quite ready to handle a significant load in the majors, then perhaps they could pivot to Alvarez.
- Phillies [Current Depth Chart] — If there’s a National League team that could make some sense, it’s probably the Phils. While they’d like to see what Tommy Joseph can do at first, he’s hardly a slam dunk and currently lacks a platoon partner. The rebuilding club could split time there and perhaps see if Alvarez becomes a deadline trade chip.
Which team do you think will sign Alvarez? (Link for app users.)