Mariners Free Agent Target: Pedro Alvarez


Should the Seattle Mariners pursue Pedro Alvarez this offseason?

The Seattle Mariners have not been shy about making slash moves this winter. Jerry Dipoto and company have made the Mariners much stronger in the outfield, and the catching position has been solidified. However, one are that still needs to be addressed is first base. Pedro Alvarez is one player who the M’s could target to fill the void.

The 28-year-old was non-tendered this week by the Pittsburgh Pirates, making him an unrestricted free agent. Alvarez is amongst the better options available at first base right now, and he should have little trouble finding a new home this offseason. The Mariners have not been officially linked to Alvarez yet, but it is assumed they will at least take a look at the slugger.

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Alvarez starred at Vanderbilt University, establishing himself as one of the top amateur prospects in the 2008 draft. The Pirates wasted little time selecting him with the second overall pick. Alvarez raced through the minor leagues, making his big league debut on June 16, 2010.

The Riverdale, NY product did a nice job for the Bucs in his rookie season. Alvarez posted a .256 batting average with 21 doubles, 16 home runs and 64 RBI across 95 games. Many predicted stardom as he registered a .326 on base percentage and slugged .461 through his first 386 plate appearances.

Aug 22, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Pedro Alvarez (24) at bat against the San Francisco Giants during the third inning at PNC Park. The Pirates won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

However, Alvarez suffered through a terrible sophomore slump in 2011. He was anemic at the plate, hitting .191 with 4 home runs and 19 RBI in 74 games. His .272 on base percentage and .289 slugging percentage both represent career lows. Pittsburgh opted to send Alvarez to AAA, where he slashed .256/.365/.432 with 5 home runs and 19 RBI in 35 games.

Alvarez took some significant steps forward during the 2012 season. He did not let his poor 2011 season impact him, as he hit .244 with 25 doubles, 30 home runs and 85 RBI across 149 games. Alvarez excelled as an everyday third baseman, posting a .317 on base percentage and slugging .467 through 586 at bats.

2013 was the year everyone in baseball took notice of the Pirates’ star thumper. Alvarez slashed .233/.296/.473 with a league leading 36 home runs and 100 RBI. He represented the Bucs at the All-Star Game and won his first Silver Slugger Award. It was a breakout campaign to be sure, and Alvarez played a big part in Pittsburgh snapping their lengthy postseason drought.

Alvarez got off to a sluggish start in 2104, and it really hurt his final numbers. He hit .231 with 18 home runs and 56 RBI across 122 games. It was a down year for Alvarez, but he still managed to post a .312 on base percentage and .405 slugging percentage.

El Toro bounced back this past season with the Pirates. Alvarez raised his batting average to .243 while contributing 27 home runs and 77 RBI as the Bucs once again graced the postseason. His .318 OBP was his best mark since his rookie season, and his .469 slugging percentage was the second highest of his career.

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Defense has never been Alvarez’s strength, but he hit a new low last season. After spending his first five seasons as a below average third baseman, the Pirates moved him across the diamond to first base in 2015. The transition proved to be a difficult one, as Alvarez graded out as one of the worst first baseman in the league. He committed 23 miscues, which is the highest single season tally any first baseman has had since Kevin Young had 23 in 1999. Needless to say, Alvarez’s inability to play defense is a big reason why Pittsburgh did not tender him a contract.

Personally, I do not endorse the Mariners signing Pedro Alvarez. He was one of the worst fielders in all of baseball last season, and he does not fit into what Jerry Dipoto is attempting to build in Seattle. I am standing firm in my belief that Justin Morneau is the player and person the Mariners need. Morneau is a far superior defender to Alvarez, and his career OBP of .349 is incredible.

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Inconsistency has been the name of the game for the Mariners in recent years, and adding a player like Alvarez would only lead to further frustration amongst the fanbase. He is an all or nothing type, and Seattle needs predictable production from their first baseman in 2016.