Pittsburgh Pirates Make Series of Roster Moves: Pedro Alvarez, Rod Barajas, Jay Bell

By Troy Pfaff

The Pittsburgh Pirates made three roster moves and a coaching move today, including the exercising of third baseman Pedro Alvarez‘s option for 2013, as well as the declining of catcher Rod Barajas‘.

Alvarez, 25, will be paid $700,000 for the 2013 campaign. The former first round draft pick mashed 30 home runs this season, nearly doubling his previous career high of 16 set during his rookie campaign in 2010. Alvarez took 347 at bats that season compared to 525 in 2012.

His 30 home runs ranked second on the team behind Gold Glover Andrew McCutchen‘s 31, as well as second among NL third basemen. Alvarez also posted a .244 average this season with 85 RBI, surpassing my preseason projections for the former Vanderbilt standout by a wide margin.

Barajas, on the other hand, hit a career-low .206 with 11 home runs after posting 16, 17 and 19 home runs in the previous three seasons. He did provide some durability behind the plate unlike what Pirates fans were used to seeing with the oft-injured Ryan Doumit in addition to Chris Snyder in previous years, but many were calling for Michael McKenry to take the starting catching position away from Barajas by the end of the season.

Barajas would have been paid $3.5 million in 2013. There still seems to be mutual interest between Barajas and the club for Rod’s return to the team at a smaller pay rate, but the Pirates will likely explore the trade and free agent markets before committing to bringing the 37-year-old back.

The club also released left-handed reliever Hisanori Takahashi. The Pirates claimed the 37-year-old off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels in August. He allowed eight runs in 8.1 innings and will become a free agent at the end of the week.

Finally, the Pirates hired former Buccos short stop Jay Bell as the team’s Major League hitting coach. Bell was a good defensive short stop who plastered 38 home runs with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 1999 at the age of 33. His next highest home run total was 21 set two years prior.

The two-time All-Star’s name has been thrown around with the word “steroids” on more than one occasion, though he hasn’t officially been proven guilty of anything.

He spent last season as the AA hitting coach in the Diamondbacks’ system.

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