Outfielder Anthony Alford has elected to become a free agent rather than accepting the Pirates’ outright assignment to Triple-A, John Dreker of the Pirates Prospects site reports (Twitter link). Pittsburgh designated Alford for assignment last week, and he cleared DFA waivers yesterday without being claimed.
Since this isn’t the first time Alford has been outrighted off a team’s 40-man roster, he had the option of deciding whether to accept the Pirates’ assignment, or entering the open market in search of another opportunity elsewhere. While it’s possible Alford could end up re-signing with the Bucs, his decision to test free agency likely ends his tenure in Pittsburgh after less than two years.
The Pirates acquired Alford via waiver claim in August 2020, taking him off the Blue Jays’ roster after Toronto had also designated the outfielder. The Jays made Alford a third-round pick in the 2012 draft, and he drew three years’ worth of top-100 prospect attention from multiple pundits as he continued to move up the ladder in the Toronto farm system. However, injuries also curtailed his progress, and ultimately limited Alford to only 46 Major League games in a Blue Jays uniform from 2017-20.
The outfielder got only slightly more of a look with the Pirates, playing 56 games and receiving 165 plate appearances in a Pittsburgh uniform over the last three seasons. Alford’s .235/.309/.423 slash line in that span was only slightly below (97 OPS+) league-average production, but it also wasn’t enough for the Pirates to keep him around ahead of younger players.
Now 27 years old, Alford will move on to see if the third time is the charm with his baseball career. Speculatively, the Braves could be a potential fit given how president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos was the Blue Jays’ GM when Toronto initially drafted Alford. Any number of other clubs could also be willing to take a flier on a former top prospect, and try to translate Alford’s obvious athletic ability into consistent success on the field.
The reality is that most top 100 guys don’t turn into star players, or even MLB regulars. In hindsight I wish the Jays had traded him for something.
Trevor Bauer's Hairy Ass
Some Jays fans were worried he’d blossom after he was claimed by the Bucs. Some though he’s post the following numbers in Pittsburgh:
.311 BA 14 Homers 77 RBI 41 2B 13 3B 62 SB
Probably should have stuck with football.
Not a surprise. The Bucs seem to value Jake Marisnick more, plus they have Greg Allen on the IL and tons of prospects waiting in the wings (Jack Suwinski, Cal Mitchell, Travis Swaggerty, Matt Frazier, etc). Anthony Alford always struck me as a good overall athlete who simply needed to harness his raw skills a bit more. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him sign in Japan or Korea.
When he was in the Jays system, I always felt Alford was overhyped. People were in awe of his athleticism and overlooked his clear flaws because of it. Alford was never a consistent hitter. He would have a good two weeks & then be ice cold for 2 months. This was due largely to his approach at the plate. He tried to drive the ball out of the ball park all the time as though he were a power hitter and that was never who he was. He would have been better served being more of a contact hitter & then using his speed to cause havoc on the base paths. Alford never seemed to want to do that though & that is why he has been DFA’d twice now
Trevor Bauer's Ass
Alford just was never able to live up to expectations due to injuries.
I understand the logic as to why you would think the Braves might go get him, but if it were me, he’d absolutely have to sign a minor league deal. He’s produced next to no value at the mlb lvl and truly needs to figure it out again in the minors. Plus we don’t have a giant need for him at the mlb lvl. Our outfield is a tiny bit crowded, although defensively a nightmare. And I like the bench options we currently have better than Alford. I even like our triple A outfielders better than him… he’s better for a team like the orioles to sign or bucs to resign on a minor league deal and hope he can figure it out again
I’d be shocked if AA signed Alford. Especially when the Braves have Heredia who is better on the bench on the MLB team. I would value Alex Dickerson who made it thru waivers and is being stashed at AAA or even Drew Waters who hasn’t played a single game in MLB yet over Alford.
“The Pirates don’t want me, BUT I’m SURE every other team will….”
There will be another team that will sign him to a minors deal. He knew he was at the end in Pittsburgh so time to start from scratch somewhere else.
Two problems with Alford. He can’t make any contact, and he can’t stay healthy.
He has had moments but more moments like you describe. Can hit in the minors but never seems to translate that to the bigs. He goes on long stretches where he strikes out most of the time and gets the odd hit. Gets hurt, goes on the IL then after a long stint and a rehab assignment comes back and hits for a short time. Either gets hurt again or the season ends then everything repeats the next season. Maddening because he hits well in AAA.
Alford got virtually no at-bats his first few years because he wanted to play football. The guy had so much promise but his focus was divided. We can only wonder what could have been if he actually wanted to be a baseball player.
Trevor Bauer's Hairy Ass
Maybe he can hook on with my Steelers as a football player.
Mendoza Line 215
I think that Alford still has promise but he needs to refine his hitting philosophy.
He is not the best outfielder either.
It seems as though he wanted a new start somewhere.I think that injuries have caused him to lose ground so that this may be essentially his career.
The Pirates are not exactly top heavy with outfielders so hopefully he goes to AAA and figures it out.
He elected FA. Does not look like he will be figuring it out in Indianapolis, He seems to hit AAA hitting well but his bats do not seem to be able to produce in the Show. Maybe he needs Jobu?
Mendoza Line 215
He is not Clemente in the outfield but management thinks that they can trot out infielders and they suddenly become major league outfielders.
Say what you want about Marisnick’s hitting but at least he is a fine outfielder.
I agree. They have been trotting IF out there until any of Suwinski, Swaggerty, Madris, Fraizer Smith-Njigba, Mitchell is ready to play. Glad that Suwinski has gotten at bats. Allen will be coming back somewhat soon too. He is Marisnick but with a bit more pop.
It is very bad to drink Jobu’s rum. VERY bad.
Mendoza Line 215
I am not familiar with Allen at all.Is he any good?
Will Suwinski be successful as a MLB player?I know that he started out extremely well in AA.
I do not know much about the young players so it is better to be quiet and thought stupid than to talk and remove all doubt.
Time to move on. Surprised he released himself instead of the pirates doing it. There wasn’t any room in Indy for him