Why it’s time for the Pirates to extend (or attempt to extend) Pedro Alvarez .. and what Clint said that dropped our jaws


PNC PARK  –  “When people are greedy be fearful. When people are fearful be greedy,” – Warren Buffet.


In case you missed it, our own Rob Biertempfel caught up with superagent Scott Boras yesterday and broke the news that Boras is “open” to talking extension with Pirates about Pedro Alvarez.


Alvarez is an interesting case because he’s eligible for arbitration next year, meaning he’s about to become more expensive.



If only Boras could represent every member of the working class


Alvarez is made more interesting because his agent, Scott Boras, is one of the toughest to deal with in the game, adept at maximizing his clients’ leverage in deals.


Boris rarely has his players sign team-friendly contracts that buy arbitration and free agency years. Rather he has his clients test free agency as early as possible and use arbitration to their advantage.


From a Sports Illustrated article last spring:


Bumgarner, the Giants’ 22-year-old lefthander with 20 career wins coming into this year, had signed a five-year, $35 million extension with the Giants—a deal that surpassed the five-year, $14 million contract that Moore, a 22-year-old lefty with one major league start under his belt at the time, signed in December as the largest ever for a pitcher with less than two years of service time.

“My job is to teach our players to [maximize their value],” Boras says, “and I can’t fathom how [any agent] would give direction to players [to sign] contracts of this nature at that young of an age.”


So the fact that Boris is “open” to talking about signing Alvarez through his arbitration years is interesting.


“We’re open to the idea,” Boras told the Trib on Friday. “I let the player make those decisions. We’ll listen to everything, then determine if it’s beneficial to Pedro’s interests.”


Boris often represents some of baseball’s best players, so he often has great leverage to work with. But because of Alvarez’s inconsistency, because of the swing-and-miss in his game, there has to be some uncertainty in the minds of Boras and Alvarez about what his future earning power will be. What if Pedro cannot trim his 33% strikeout rate? What if he becomes a platoon player? What if he moves off third, defensively?


That takes me back to the Warren Buffett quote I led with. Because there has to be some fear – some uncertainty – in the Boras/Alvarez camp, now is the time to buy on the property if you’re the Pirates, I think.


Because the Pirates lack impact infield bats in their system. Because there are some reasons to believe Alvarez might be the next Aramis Ramirez. The up-and-down slugger who developed consistency later his his career, after he left Pittsburgh, now is the time to buy, imo.


Alvarez’s GB/FB have been trending the right direction for three straight seasons. from 2.18 in 2011 to 1.33 this season, as has his HR/FB rate, which sits at an absurd 28 percent this season. Alvarez has rare power. He’s hitting more flyballs the last two years to take advantage of it, and if he can gut his strikeout rate at all, he’s going to be a very valuable player.


Boras noted, there aren’t many power-hitting third baseman in the game, presently. If you can hit home runs and stick on the left  side of the infield you’re going to be able to live comfortably. If Alvarez keeps up his ’12-13 performance he could become an eight-figure player in his later arbitration years and in free agency.


Pirates GM Neal Huntington told me this week he believes “there’s more in there” regarding Alvarez and production.


If you believe that, now is the time to push for an extension when there is a little doubt in the Alvarez/Boras camp.


There aren’t many recent comparable third basemen.


*St. Louis third baseman David Freese avoided his first year of arbitration at $3.15 million this offseason.


*In 2010, Mark Reynolds signed a 3-year $14.5 million deal with Arizona to buy out his arbitration years.


*As a free agent, Aramis Ramriez signed a 3-year, $36 million deal last offseason.


With the cost of baseball inflation, the Reynolds model would put a three-year Alvarez deal at $16 million.


I think it’s well worth the price if possible. And if you could add on a Ramirez-type contract to buy out three free agency years (probably dreaming with Boras), you’re looking at six years, $52 million.


If I’m the Pirates, I’d sign on board for either. And it sounds like the Pirates are open. Said prez Frank Coonell: “We are proponents of multiyear deals for our core players.For us, buying out free-agent years is very important. To do otherwise doesn’t make much sense.”




Yes, Alvarez is inconsistent but I think he can stick at third base and he’s going to hit 30 homers a year if healthy. No other Pirate has his power. And I think he has a chance to get better and really be a value.


Feeling fearful regarding Alvarez? Then now is the time to be greedy.




Clint Hurdle on what he learned when he began catching as a pro:


“I would blink every time they swing. One thing I found out is if you open up your mouth you can’t blink.”


Funny thing? All eight of us or so in Clint’s office tried it, sitting there with our jaws dropped.


Go ahead try it. I know you just did.