The Pirates non-tendered Pedro Alvarez because he was projected to make 8.1 million in arbitration, and had performed at replacement level for the past two seasons. A 29 year old free agent, Alvarez has a career 106 wRC+. His power is clearly impressive, and he’s hit the home runs to prove it (131 in his career), but at his peak he’s getting on base at an average rate. His Steamer projected 110 wRC+ ranks 19th among MLB first baseman next season, and Alvarez is certainly a first baseman at this point, if he can even hold a position in the field. His defense in the past few years has been unbelievably terrible. There’s still a chance he can learn to play first, and while the recent reports that Scott Boras wants him to sign with a team that will guarantee him 50% of his playing time in the field complicate his market if they’re true (and since it’s more fun to assume that they are, I’m going to), it does make sense in a way. At this point in the offseason, it’s likely that Alvarez will be signing a one year deal. If he can demonstrate an ability to play in the field, Alvarez could be in line for a much bigger payday if he improves on his hitting. But the number of teams interested in Alvarez getting 50% of his playing time in the field narrows the list considerably.
Baltimore Orioles: It’s hard to find a spot on the Orioles for Alvarez, even though they’ve been linked to him. With Chris Davis locking down first base for many years now, the only open spot for Alvarez would be at designated hitter, a spot the Orioles acquired Mark Trumbo to fill earlier this offseason. Now, an Alvarez/Trumbo platoon would be a marginal improvement on just Trumbo, but it’s not enough of an improvement to justify the cost of acquiring Trumbo and paying him 9.2 million to be the weak half of a platoon.The 50% playing time in the field also doesn’t seem achievable here, unless the Orioles do some lineup shuffling (i.e. Trumbo to left field, Davis to DH, Alvarez to first). He certainly couldn’t play third here (or, really, anywhere), with Manny Machado one of the best in the league at that position. If they play Trumbo in an outfield corner (a bad idea) perhaps Alvarez could DH then. But that’s a bad idea.
Boston Red Sox: David Ortiz is the designated hitter, and assuming they follow the Jeter model no amount of underperformance will displace him from that spot. Hanley Ramirez is transitioning to first base, and looks to have the inside track on that job. Travis Shaw showed enough last season (119 wRC+ in 248 PA) to make it seem like he’ll get a chance to play the position when Hanley’s out. If Ortiz or Ramirez or even Pablo Sandoval is injured in spring training though, Alvarez could be a decent stopgap until that player returns, at which point they could re-evaluate Alvarez and send him to the bench, but Alvarez’s lack of positional flexibility makes this an unlikely, but possible, fit.
New York Yankees: Alex Rodriguez at DH, Mark Teixeira at first, and Chase Headley at third. Rodriguez and Teixeira are older and injury prone, and there’s a chance that the Yankees could view Alvarez as a backup for each of these players, but their bench is relatively set, and, in a recurring theme, Alvarez contributes virtually nothing defensively.
Tampa Bay Rays: If they hadn’t traded for Logan Morrison and committed 4.2 million to him, this fit would make sense. Morrison isn’t very good, but he’s penciled in at the left handed half of a DH platoon, and that’s where Alvarez would go. He also doesn’t fit a first base, where the Rays are paying James Loney 7 million to play everyday. Loney is left handed anyway, and he wasn’t good last year. But there’s no reason to think the Rays won’t give him a chance to rebound, essentially ruling out Alvarez.
Toronto Blue Jays: How much do you trust Chris Colabello and his 142 wRC+ last year? Before you answer, keep in mind he had a .411 BABIP. Steamer has him projected for a 107 wRC+ this year, 3 points shy of Alvarez’s 110. That’s a modest improvement, and if Alvarez’s defense stays terrible he’s not providing more value than Colabello. If the Blue Jays think his defense can improve at first base, then perhaps they’d be willing to give him a shot as the left handed half of a platoon with Justin Smoak there. Maybe.
Chicago White Sox: Seemingly running out of money, the White Sox also have different needs than a bad glove, slightly above average bat first baseman/DH type. With one year left of Adam LaRoche making 13 million, they’ll probably just try to ride that out until he’s gone. They also have Jose Abreu. It would be a strange match if Alvarez were to end up in Chicago, but stranger things have happened.
Cleveland Indians: Nah. After signing Mike Napoli the Indians have their solutions at first base and designated hitter. There’s just no space for Alvarez. Would an Alvarez/Napoli platoon be better than just Napoli? Probably. Would it be worth it, financially? Probably not.
Detroit Tigers: With the money committed to Victor Martinez at designated hitter and Miguel Cabrera at first base, it’s hard to see where Alvarez would fit here.
Kansas City Royals: With Eric Hosmer at first and Kendrys Morales at DH, there doesn’t seem to be a fit here either.
Minnesota Twins: The Twins signed Byung-Ho Park and he’ll probably DH. They have Joe Mauer at first base still. There’s not a clear fit here, and the Twins are unlikely to spend the money on someone who isn’t a clear fit at any position.
Houston Astros: A.J. Reed is the heir apparent here, but he’s not in the majors yet. He topped out in AA last season, and while he could debut this season, the Astros current first baseman is Jon Singleton. Singleton has 420 plate appearances and a career 79 wRC+, which is bad for almost any position, let alone first base. He’s hit better than that in the minors, and it’s easy to think the Astros will just run him out there until Reed is ready, especially since they’re committed to Singleton for several years. That deal hasn’t panned out well, but the Astros could try to salvage what value they can get from Singleton now. Alvarez is a fit here though, if the Astros decide that Singleton isn’t the answer out of camp, especially with DH Evan Gattis expected to start the season on the disabled list. The biggest point against Alvarez in Houston is that they’ve had all offseason to figure out a plan, and that plan hasn’t involved Alvarez (yet). So it seems most likely to me that they don’t view him as an upgrade over Singleton, and maybe he isn’t. Steamer has him projected for a 106 wRC+, a not that significant drop off from Alvarez at 110.
Los Angeles Angels: The Angels have avoided any big signings so far this offseason, a rarity for them. Alvarez would certainly fit that strategy. Unfortunately for Alvarez, he doesn’t really fit with the Angels. They have Albert Pujols signed seemingly forever to play some combination of first base and DH, and C.J. Cron might not be the answer at either of those positions, but he’s had a reverse platoon split in his brief MLB career so sharing time with Alvarez is unlikely. Even if you regress his platoon split closer to normal, he’s not likely to be platooned. It’s hard to predict what Arte Moreno and the Angels will ever do, but this looks unlikely.
Oakland A’s: With the Billy Butler contract weighing them down and Yonder Alonso acquired to play first base, there’s no space for Alvarez in Oakland right now. Even if both of those players aren’t good. And they aren’t.
Seattle Mariners: Nelson Cruz Dh-ing and Adam Lind playing first against righties doesn’t leave room for Alvarez.
Texas Rangers: Prince Fielder at DH and Mitch Moreland at first doesn’t leave room for Alvarez here either. They also have Ike Davis, who’s a hitter probably of a similar caliber as Alvarez. Signing Ian Desmond to play left field probably makes any other signings unnecessary and superfluous.
Atlanta Braves: Once you get into NL teams, the only positional fit is first base. On the Braves, first base is occupied by Freddie Freeman, and he’s not going anywhere for the moment.
Miami Marlins: Alvarez is marginally better than Justin Bour, but the Marlins aren’t the type of team that seems likely to pay a few million dollars for a marginal upgrade.
New York Mets: They’re paying Lucas Duda 6.7 million dollars to play first base, effectively ruling them out on Alvarez for now.
Philadelphia Phillies: The Ryan Howard era is winding down, but his one remaining year and the Phillies attempting to lose as many games as possible means Alvarez isn’t a good fit.
Washington Nationals: Ryan Zimmerman will be a free agent in 2019, and although his decline has been precipitous, he’s still likely to be the first baseman for this year, and after that we’ll see.
Chicago Cubs: There’s just no way.
Cincinatti Reds: With Joey Votto at first, the Reds are set. They’re also trying to lose though, so maybe Alvarez at third isn’t the worst idea in the world. No, I just checked. It’s almost the worst idea in the world.
Milwaukee Brewers: The Brewers are also trying to lose, so this isn’t a perfect fit. They also have Chris Carter at first base and they’ll likely look to flip him at the trade deadline. Maybe they could try to platoon them both and see who performs better, then try to move that player? It’s not impossible to see this, but it’s certainly unlikely.
Pittsburgh Pirates: This isn’t going to happen.
St. Louis Cardinals: Matt Adams is playing first base and Brandon Moss will play some combination of first base and outfield.
Arizona Diamondbacks: They have Paul Goldschmidt at first, so this doesn’t really make sense as a landing spot for Alvarez.
Colorado Rockies: Ben Paulsen and Matt Reynolds are probably going to share time here, and Alvarez is better than Paulsen, but the real question is what the Rockies are doing? Are they trying to lose this year? They’re going to lose this year, for sure, but if they want to lose more games and acquire more money for their draft pool then it doesn’t make sense for them to sign a player like Alvarez. But if they’re trying to win enough games that they could potentially sneak into the playoffs if everything goes right for them, then a player like Alvarez makes sense. Pecota projects the Rockies to go 74-88, and a player like Alvarez probably adds about a win. The best case scenario for the Rockies this year might not even get them in the playoffs, so it’s probably a bad decision to sign a player like Alvarez, but then again the Rockies seem to operate in unconventional ways and Alvarez would be fun in Coors field. So I hope it happens.
Los Angeles Dodgers: The Dodgers have made a concerted effort to acquire depth, but there’s no reason they’d acquire Alvarez.
San Diego Padres: Alvarez would be a modest improvement on Brett Wallace, and there’s no real reason to acquire him when they improvement is so modest. Most of what is gained offensively would be lost defensively.
San Francisco Giants: Barring any kind of injury to Brandon Belt, there’s no reason to think Pedro Alvarez makes sense for the Giants.
After looking at every team in MLB, the best fits for Alvarez (barring any injuries or trades), appear to be the Rockies, Astros, Blue Jays, and maybe the Orioles. Alvarez isn’t a perfect fit anywhere, and at this point Scott Boras’ strategy of waiting out the market might be the right one.
A lot of these roster projections come from rosterresource.com, so check that out.