Thoughts on Orioles re-signing Pedro Alvarez to a minor league deal: Really? And, why not? - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Dan Connolly

Thoughts on Orioles re-signing Pedro Alvarez to a minor league deal: Really? And, why not?

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

The Orioles, under executive vice president Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter, make unconventional moves.

Decisions that don’t seem to fit initially, but might if certain things happen.

And that’s what has appeared to have occurred this weekend.

According to FanRag Sports, the Orioles have agreed to a minor league deal with Pedro Alvarez, pending medical review, that could pay him $2 million with incentives that could be worth an additional $3.5 million.

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The first reaction is, ‘Say what?’

Alvarez, 30, had a solid season for the Orioles last year, when he initially didn’t appear to be a particularly good fit, but ended up as a solid contributor with 22 homers and a .249 average.

He looks like an ever worse fit this spring.

Alvarez is a limited defender who can mash right-handed pitching. He’s best served as a platoon DH, though he held his own against lefties last year on a limited basis.

Because the Orioles wanted to upgrade their outfield defense and improve their on-base percentage this offseason, they traded for Seth Smith, added Craig Gentry and Michael Bourn on minor league deals and re-signed Mark Trumbo, who has been penciled-in as the primary DH.

The inn is so crowded that promising young DH Trey Mancini may get punted back to Triple-A despite continuing to hit, young outfielders Joey Rickard, Aneury Tavarez and Anthony Santander are in a no-holds-barred battle for a roster spot, Christian Walker has been jettisoned from the organization and minor league outfielder Dariel Alvarez has been converted to a pitcher.

And now Pedro Alvarez is back in black and orange?

To make matters more bizarre, Alvarez, who has struggled in the past at third base and first base, worked in the outfield this offseason to widen his market. And the sense, according to FanRag, is that he could be used as an outfielder in the Orioles’ organization.

Well, here are some quick thoughts on all of this.

Let’s just call me skeptical that Alvarez can play an adequate outfield. He has a strong arm, but he wasn’t good at his original positions. Trying a new one at 30 seems rather ambitious, especially for the Orioles, who emphasize defense and felt they needed an upgrade over Trumbo. I can’t imagine Alvarez can trump Trumbo out there, and Trumbo is still the best bet for most DH at-bats, anyway.

Secondly, it’s gonna be real interesting to see if Alvarez would be willing to play extensively at Norfolk. This is a guy who was the No. 2 pick in the nation in 2008 and hasn’t played at Triple-A since 2011. I’m sure it is humbling not to be signed until March in consecutive years, but that’s different than actually riding buses to Scranton in May.

Alvarez is a big leaguer, there is no doubt about it. And he just looks like big league insurance with the Orioles, and that’s got to be tough for him to swallow.

To me, this is kind of baseball’s version of finding odd jobs for an unemployed buddy until he can find something better.

When the Orioles brought in Alvarez last March there was concern that he was recalcitrant, and wouldn’t fit into the carefully constructed clubhouse atmosphere. Good guy Ryan Flaherty, Alvarez’s college teammate, vouched for El Toro and the Orioles took a shot.

And Alvarez proved to be a hard worker and great teammate. He was quiet and he didn’t seek out the media, but he was a model citizen and produced enough on the field to justify his spot.

Since he was without a job again with weeks to go before the season starts, the Orioles probably figured they had nothing to lose.

They know his bat, they like his personality and his price tag was right.

Like many of Duquette’s moves, it was low-risk with a solid upside. It’s not a bad call if Alvarez is willing to bide his time in the minors and the Orioles suffer an injury. In fact, it could prove to be a really good move in that scenario.

Is it a conventional one, though?

Absolutely not, but you’re used to that by now.

11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Deadman4139

    March 11, 2017 at 10:01 pm

    Great read and good insight. I think he can be good insurance for the big league club ..I wonder what the incentives are?

    • Dan Connolly

      March 11, 2017 at 11:25 pm

      Haven’t seen them but the are almost surely based on plate appearances. You can’t do production numbers such as homers, etc.

  2. Wade Warren

    March 11, 2017 at 10:01 pm

    I really like this signing

    • Dan Connolly

      March 11, 2017 at 11:26 pm

      It’s interesting. And maybe it pays off.

  3. Camden Bird

    March 12, 2017 at 12:15 am

    Hey Dan, first off, I just bought your book the other week. I absolutely love it. Hopefully I can get it signed one day.

    Secondly, I too was really surprised to hear about the Alvarez (re-)signing. We already have guys who are all-or-nothing mashers, who have a very limited OBP skill set, offer little to no speed, and can’t play the outfield. So bringing in yet another player in that mold is admittedly a bit frustrating.

    However, I was totally opposed to the Alvarez signing last offseason too (especially in the wake of the Fowler debacle), and yet Pedro proved me wrong…eventually. I thought he was a total bum for the first two months of the season before going on a tear from June to August. Hopefully, things can work out even better this year.

    And lastly, will there be an article addressing the rumors that Angel Pagan had reached an agreement with the Orioles, but failed his physical? Based on how he’s playing for Puerto Rico in this WBC, he looks perfectly fine to me. In fact, he just got a hit, stole second base, and then came around to score. I’ve been hoping for most of the offseason that the O’s would pursue him. Is there any truth to all of this? And even more so, is there any chance that they try pursuing him again once the physical issue is “resolved” like they did with Gallardo last offseason?

    Keep up the great work, Dan. You do an outstanding job!

    • Dan Connolly

      March 12, 2017 at 6:24 pm

      Thanks CB, glad you’re enjoying the book and the site. I’m heading to Sarasota and will look into the Pagan stuff. But you know how the O’s physicals work. It’s not about whether he can play now. It’s whether his medicals show concern about him fulfilling his contract. And the Orioles are VERY conservative in those matters. And, honestly, they are often right.

  4. Bancells Moustache

    March 12, 2017 at 7:44 am

    Eh, over 162, what’s a few weeks? Let Mancini, he of the 16 MLB plate appearances, stretch out in Norfolk to start the year while a frightened-his-career-is-over El Toro puts up enough numbers in the Bigs to put him on the block. Because, while the Orioles are very deep at 1B/DH, 29 other teams might not be and rest assured that someone, somewhere is gonna get hurt.

  5. Dan Connolly

    March 12, 2017 at 6:26 pm

    That’s a good point, too. Nothing says they couldn’t trade him if he’s showing something and they don’t have a spot. And I’m sure there are opt-outs too.

  6. woody

    March 13, 2017 at 2:21 am

    The signing of Pedro Alvarez is not the problem – it’s a good deal for the club and I like him as a player. The problem is DD not addressing the needs of the team with these signings – and suggesting that this guy can play outfield must have Adam Jones furious.

    This is a player that is already surplus to requirements and it would take 2 or 3 key injuries for him to get playing time. How much mileage are we going to get out of a player that strikes out loads and is weak defensively, given that we already have a bunch of those to choose from already. If he’s been bought as a value trade chip then yeah – we could maybe flip for a profit but the market isn’t too warm on these guys right now!

    The key issue for me is Adam Jones. AJ is, if he hasn’t already, going to start losing defensive value due to his age. In most clubs he’d be occupying a corner spot already. We are in danger of going in to a bunch of games with some of the weakest corner outfielders in the league meaning that he’s even more stretched and unable to defend his own position . He’s a plus outfielder that once again faces the prospect of getting banged up and coming short on defensive metrics due to having to cover 20% more ground than most.

    If we had a 25yr old in CF this policy of employing weak defense in the corners might just work fine – but we don’t. We’ve signed Bourn and Smith – Bourn might have worked but is injured, Smith probably not good enough. I can live with Kim or Trumbo occupying a spot if we have someone with young legs to cover the other corner. Personally i’d throw playing Chris Davis in RF into the mix. He’s more athletic than Trumbo and Trumbo is a good 1st baseman – it seems like an optimal switch and i’d also refer to Crush’s last purple patch with the bat being late 2015 when he predominantly occupied that spot – perhaps getting those legs moving somehow helps his game!

    As it stands, our only ticket to not making the mistake of playing this season in exactly the same one dimensional way that we played the last is Joey Rickard – and that worries me greatly.

  7. Boog Robinson Robinson

    March 13, 2017 at 7:39 am

    Not sure how it all fits, but I like the signing. I’m starting to believe Trumbo may be playing more outfield that anybody anticipated this year. Frankly, I thought The Bull was shortchanged last year on late season at-bats. This man’s career is far from over.

  8. loganmillermusic12

    March 13, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    I think this is brilliant. Not only could he help the club if someone goes down, but if we still have a healthy team and a very cheap minor league El Toro come August, the right team could be willing to make a trade for him that could seriously benefit the O’s.

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