Pedro Alvarez has astonishing power which has been well-documented throughout his MLB career, but despite the instant offense that he provides, his struggles defensively led to his departure from the Pittsburgh Pirates. The club would’ve had to pay Alvarez a projected $8.1 million in 2016, so they declined to tender him a contract.
The Baltimore Orioles signed the 29-year-old to a one-year contract worth $5.75 million which is the salary he made last season with Pittsburgh.
Alvarez had his breakout season in the majors in 2013 when he hit a National League-best 36 home runs and also drove in 100 runs. He’ll strike out a lot just like a lot of power sluggers, but he can turn any game around with just one swing of the bat.
The Pirates drafted Alvarez as a third baseman out of Vanderbilt in the 2008 MLB Entry Draft which is the position he played for the majority of his early career. The Bucs decided that despite his superior arm strength, his erratic throws were too much of a liability. Clint Hurdle moved Alvarez to first base full-time in 2015 but the experiment failed, as Alvarez accumulated 23 errors, leading the league in that department.
When the Pirates cut ties with Alvarez, it was assumed that his next home would be in the American League. There was next to no chance that any National League club would pay him over $5 million.
It’s still unknown whether Alvarez will be the full-time designated hitter for the Orioles, but his career stats indicate that his offensive numbers rise when he receives more at-bats. Baltimore also acquired Mark Trumbo during the offseason, so it’ll be interesting to see how Alvarez fits into the club’s overall plan.
Alvarez has the potential to be a slam dunk signing for the Orioles if they can find a way to make him the full-time designated hitter. His defensive problems in 2014 and 2015 led to a decrease in at-bats. His two best seasons came in 2012 and 2013 when he received 525 or more at-bats. If the Orioles can get him into the lineup while keeping off the field, they’ll reap the benefits of his transcendent power.