Right-hander Henderson Alvarez has agreed to a deal with the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League, reports Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports (on Twitter). The BHSC client will look to showcase his health on the indy circuit in an effort to find his way back onto a Major League roster in the season’s second half.
The Marlins received their share of scrutiny for non-tendering Alvarez prior to the 2016 season. The righty had missed most of the preceding season with shoulder issues but could’ve been retained for around $4MM when he was just a year removed from 187 innings of 2.65 ERA ball. Miami’s read on Alvarez’s health struggles proved shrewd, however, as Alvarez didn’t throw a single big league inning in 2016 after signing an offseason deal with the A’s. After spending the whole year trying to work his way back to the mound, Alvarez underwent shoulder surgery for the second time in 14 months last September.
Alvarez’s results in the Atlantic League and the subsequent interest in him will be interesting to track. Though it’s now been more than two calendar years since he threw a Major League pitch and nearly three since he completed a full MLB season, he looked every bit the part of a promising young righty with a good future when healthy. He never missed many bats, but from the time of his MLB debut as a 21-year-old with the Blue Jays through the end of the 2014 campaign, he pitched 540 2/3 innings with a 3.70 ERA and a ground-ball rate of roughly 55 percent. That includes a two-year run in Miami with a 2.98 earned run average, 5.2 K/9, 1.9 BB/9 and a 53.7 percent grounder rate.
Though he has two recent shoulder operations on his record, a healthy Alvarez could be an intriguing low-cost option for a contender in need of rotation augmentation — assuming he shows well with the Ducks. And, as a bonus, since the now-27-year-old Alvarez currently has five years and 51 days of big league service time, he’d be controllable this offseason via arbitration one last time if he does prove capable of once again pitching in a big league rotation.