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KNEE-JERK REACTIONS: O’s Agree to 1-Year Deal with Pedro Alvarez

Pedro Alvarez trots the bases after hitting a home run.
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According to multiple reports, the Orioles and former Pittsburgh Pirates slugger Pedro Alvarez have agreed to terms on a one-year contract. The Eutaw Street Report staff weighs in on the news…

Derek Arnold

Another masher, huh? That’s cool, but the idea of Mark Trumbo now being penciled in as the right fielder is terrifying. It almost seems more sensible to put Chris Davis out there, with Trumbo at first.

This is the best, though:

Paul Valle

With the signing of Pedro Alvarez, the Orioles could make a serious run at the all-time single-season home run record. They could also make a run at the all-time single-season strikeout record. From an offensive perspective, the team now boasts six players that can hit 30+ home runs. But for a team that is relying on the starting pitching to have a collective bounce-back season, weakening the defense is a bit of a head-scratcher.

 

Jonathan French

Signing Alvarez was #4 on my plan for the Orioles offseason that I laid out back in November, but it was to have him be a Plan B for Chris Davis’ offense and before the Orioles traded for Mark Trumbo. It’s now somewhat puzzling to see how the Orioles will use him in the lineup. Trumbo is a terrible fielding outfielder and Alvarez is a terrible fielding infielder, so the two would make up a rather expensive DH platoon for over $14 million, and Alvarez will most certainly take up a spot on the bench against LHP, limiting the defensive flexibility of the roster. Of course Ryan Flaherty can play anywhere except catcher, and Rule 5 pick Joey Rickard can play all three outfield spots so the arrangement might work out.

Offensively, Alvarez as the DH against RHP is a better fit than Trumbo, as Alvarez has a career wRC+ of 118 compared to Trumbo’s 101 and Alvarez’s career BB% of 9.7% and wOBA of .340 tops Trumbo’s 6.6% and .316. Alvarez is a black hole against LHP though (career 68 wRC+, .268 wOBA) and must be platooned. Trumbo should fill in that spot as Alvarez’s platoon partner quite nicely with a career .351 wOBA and 125 wRC+ against LHP. Alvarez also isn’t afraid to work the count as he has a career 3.91 P/PA so adding another hitter with some plate discipline is quite welcome, though he’s still a bit of a free swinger with a career O-Swing% of 33.3%.

The price is quite reasonable at a reported base salary of $5.75 million with another $1.5 million in incentives, and likely why the Orioles pounced on him after seeing their lineup needing one more additional hitter. An outfielder like Jay Bruce would have fit in much better, but the Orioles obviously figure they can replace Trumbo if he’s out there defensively in the later innings during close games.

I’ve often commented about the Orioles always relying on the solo HR, and while it seems they’ve added a bit more patience this offseason, they’ve also doubled down on home runs fueling their offense as they can now get potentially three or four a game with this roster. If they can put some guys on the basepaths with that added on-base ability to go with that power, they could also have quite a few innings with crooked numbers. With all of the additions of the power bats and some on-base ability, it will no doubt be fun to watch this offense this season during many games, and hopefully slightly less frustrating for others.

Defensively however…well the Orioles will likely need to rely on their offense to make up for their outfield defense, but with Alvarez, they now might have enough to do just that.

 

Tyler Lombardi

This one might have O’s fans scratching their heads. This has to involve the theory that making a strength an even bigger strength. Alvarez isn’t a guy you want fielding too often.

They’re probably thinking of platooning Trumbo and Alvarez at DH most of the time. Anywhere you put either on your defense makes you much worse.

I’ll be scratching my head until I see this one play out. But I like the idea of prioritizing hitting over fielding. Having solid bats in the lineup consecutively makes everyone better. Maybe they’ll occasionally put Davis in right and DH either Alvarez or Trumbo and play the other at 1st.

It’s a weird signing, for sure. I’m anxious to see what the strategy is.

 

Joel Katz

With the Alvarez move, I’m scratching my head… Sure, he gives the Orioles another left-handed bad with plenty of power, but I’m not sure what else he provides. We still have a significant hole in the outfield and a significant problem with OBP; Alvarez does not solve either of these issues. I’m sure Dan and Buck have a plan here — I’m just struggling to understand it.

My best guess is that Alvarez is a platoon DH that shares time with Trumbo. I also predict that this move will mean the end of the Jimmy Paredes era in Baltimore.

One thing is for sure: Peter Angelos really loves home runs. With Trumbo, Hardy, Jones, Davis, Machado and Alvarez, the O’s could start six players that have hit 30 homeruns in a season.

 

Phil Backert

After the Dexter Fowler situation, I tweeted how the Orioles should sign Pedro Alvarez and move Mark Trumbo to right field and hope he can be serviceable right fielder (he won’t be) and then try to win games by scoring five runs a game. When Austin Jackson signed with the Chicago White Sox, it appears Dan Duquette decided that is what they will do.

This offense is going to be a roller coaster this season as when they are on they are going to put up runs at an incredible clip, but there will be a lot of times that when they need to move the runner over or get a sac fly, they will fail by striking out. Alvarez’s agent Scott Boras has been clamoring for the O’s to do this deal all off-season as he knows Alvarez’s skill set fits perfectly in the American League East. Alvarez has a career high of 36 home runs and I don’t think it’s out of the question he comes close to those numbers this year.

We’ll see if this approach works, but one thing’s for certain, it’s Bombs Away this year for the O’s with a lineup of guys who can all hit 30 home runs. If Trumbo does indeed become the everyday RF, I think Rule 5 pick Joey Rickard has just punched his ticket onto the roster as a late inning defensive replacement.

 

Joe Polek

I really wish the Orioles would have gone out and got a RF. But instead they sign a DH… So their offense might get better but it hurts them defensively. I think the best thing for them defensively is to play Davis in RF and Trumbo at 1B (as I have said all off season). That minimizes errors. Putting Trumbo in RF maximizes them.

I wonder if the lack of hitting during Spring Training forced this move. But once again, I wish the move would have been for a RF and maybe another SP.

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