Name: Pedro Alvarez
Position: Third Base
Team: Pittsburgh Pirates
2012 Opening Day age: 25
Contract: 1 year, 0.7M remaining with two club options
Service time: < 2 years
Alvarez has a similar build to that of previously mentioned trade target Yonder Alonso, with the biggest difference being their defensive position. While Alonso is already stationed at first base, the 6'3", 235 lbs Alvarez is still attempting to remain at the hot corner. That experiment could nearing its end, as Alvarez' defense has never been considered strong and he has failed to make significant improvements in either of his major league seasons. His running ability is also below average. None of this is overly important, however, as Pedro Alvarez was not drafted for his speed nor his defensive abilties -- the Pirates made him the 2nd overall pick in 2008 because of his bat and overwhelming power. Alvarez has "pole to pole" power, with legitimate 70's being placed on the tool entering his draft year. A broken hamate bone early in his Junior year created some concerns, but he has since silenced any doubts regarding his power in his professional career (27 HR in 2009, 29 HR in 2010). The hitting tool is solid, but it is a step behind his power. He has a ton of bat speed, which allows him to see pitches longer and swing deeper in the strikezone. Alvarez also has some loft to his swing, which helps generate power but also creates a lot of flyballs. He'll never contend for batting titles, but is more than capable of putting together .900 OPS / 35 HR seasons in his prime.
(AAA) 142 AB, .246/.365/.423 (.787 OPS), 5 2B, 1 3B, 6 HR, 21 RBI, 0 SB, 25/47 BB/K
(MLB) 235 AB, .191/.272/.289 (.561 OPS), 9 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 19 RBI, 1 SB, 24/80 BB/K
Why Toronto would want him:
While Alvarez has been a bit of a bust since being drafted 2nd overall in 2008, he still has all the power potential a team could ever wants from a corner infielder. First base should be a focus for improvement this offseason, and if Toronto avoids the big free agents they should attempt to improve via the trade route. Alvarez is currently listed as a third baseman, but first base is seeming more and more like his future destination. Much like Yunel Escobar and Colby Rasmus, Alvarez is a once highly touted player who is currently frustrating his team's front office and fan base. He has a lot of risk, but a change of scenery might be exactly what Alvarez needs to unlock his middle of the lineup potential.
Why Pittsburgh might trade him:
Pittsburgh has a poor track record with developing their top draft picks, and Alvarez is beginning to look like yet another casualty on that front. If the Pirates are beginning to have any doubts about Alvarez, they may feel now is the time to trade him while he still retains some of the hype and value of being a 2nd overall pick. The organization has already begun to show its frustration, demoting Alvarez down to Triple-A Indianapolis mid-season and not recalling him until rosters expanded in September. As a team that always seems to lack pitching, the Pirates could be tempted by Toronto's young, controllable, non-Boras client arms.