Pedro Alvarez: A Good Last Resort for the Orioles

Last night, Pedro Alvarez agreed to terms with the Baltimore Orioles on a one-year contract worth a guaranteed $5.75 million, the exact same amount Alvarez made with the Pittsburgh Pirates last season. The deal reportedly includes $1.5 million worth of incentives, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

For now, let’s assume the media has this one right. Roch Kubatko of MASN is quick to remind us not to count our chickens before they hatch.

In the span of two weeks, the Orioles have managed to turn a high-OBP, quality defender in Dexter Fowler into a low-OBP, no-defense player in Alvarez. Mark Trumbo is now forced to play right field on a daily basis. The would-be DH will not be terrible in right field, but he won’t be great either. There will be a few outs turned into singles, singles turned into doubles, and doubles turned into triples. Lord help us if Trumbo manages to contribute to an inside-the-park home run. With Hyun Soo Kim slated to start in right field, Adam Jones will earn every carat of gold in his trophy if he manages to snare the 2016 Gold Glove.

Alvarez is coming off one of his “better” seasons. The big lefty slashed .243/.318/.469 with 27 home runs in 150 games for the Pirates. He will be asked to shrink wrap his glove and put it in storage as he joins the Orioles. There is no earthly reason Alvarez, who made 23 errors last season at first base, will ever need to do anything but in hit in an Orioles uniform. Over the past two seasons, Alvarez has managed to somewhat curtail his strikeouts. He had two terrible years in terms of strikeouts in 2012 and 2013, but has struck out only 244 times in his past 272 games.

Pedro Alvarez was a last resort for the Orioles. Dexter Fowler was always the answer for the Orioles — a good defender with speed and an ability to draw walks — but things could not be worked out. Austin Jackson wanted to play center field, not right. Jay Bruce would have required the Orioles to dip into an already thin farm system to acquire a player with a similar offensive profile to Alvarez.

As a last resort, the Orioles could have done worse than signing Pedro Alvarez. He is undeniably a low-OBP hitter who will join a lineup full of players cut from the same cloth. Becoming stagnant while waiting around for the three-run dinger was always going to be a problem for the Orioles this season, so why not add one more player capable of hitting plenty of dingers. In Camden Yards and the AL East, Alvarez lands in a hitter’s haven, and should give the Orioles another 30-homer bat. There’s also an added measure of flexibility with the DH spot. The Orioles now have a lefty option to platoon with Trumbo. Nolan Reimold remains a very capable option to help manage the innings in right field if defense becomes too much of a concern with Trumbo. The signing also frees up another right-handed bat if a platoon is needed with Hyun Soo Kim in left field.

There’s no denying that Pedro Alvarez was a last resort for the Orioles. He is a flawed player, as evidenced by the Pirates’ decision to non-tender him at the start of the offseason. As Alvarez has his flaws, so to do the Orioles. His signing comes off as a desperate play for power, but it does help fill out the lineup.

Now, all that’s left for Alvarez to do is follow the wisdom of Internet baseball coach Kent Murphy. Long live the dinger.

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