The Pittsburgh Pirates signed third baseman Pedro Alvarez to a one-year, $4.25 million deal, avoiding his first season of arbitration. But, with just two years separating Alvarez from reaching free agency, and no promising third baseman at any level of the system, the Pirates have to consider extending the slugger past 2016. A Scott Boras client, Alvarez will surely be pressured into joining the free agent market after the 2016 season, so the Pirates will have to offer a substantial deal to keep him around.
But, since the Pirates hate to give expensive deals with numerous years attached to them, the only way it is feasible to extend Alvarez is if the team does so before the start of next season, and pays Alvarez at a slightly higher rate than what he would be making in arbitration, similar to the deal center fielder Andrew McCutchen signed prior to the 2012 season.
However, there is concern that Alvarez may have to make the move over to first base at some point, potentially within the next three or four seasons. If the team decides this is imminent, than this will have a major impact on whether or not the Bucs want to make a large investment in the slugger, as the team typically does not make major investments at first base.
A player who Alvarez will likely try and model his contract after is Washington Nationals' third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who, in 2012, signed a six-year extension onto a previous five-year, $45 million deal he signed prior to the 2009 season. Zimmerman's annual salary is $14 million, a number the Pirates certainly would hesitate to pay someone who is seemingly a one-dimensional player like Alvarez.
However, if the team offers to pay Alvarez between $8-9 million for the 2015 and 2016 seasons, paying him at a higher rate than what he would likely earn in arbitration, then pay him $12.5 million over the next three years with a $14.5 million team option for a fourth season that includes a $1.5 million buyout, a deal could work.
Here is how the deal would look.
2020: $14,500,000 team option with $1,500,000 buyout.
The five-year extension would be worth a total of $54.5 million, excluding the team option. This would represent one of the largest deals in team history, but if the Pirates want to avoid watching Alvarez play out his prime in pinstripes, this is the type of deal they will need to offer.
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