The Orioles and Alvarez agreed to terms on a one-year, $5.75 million contract on Monday. Although the 29-year-old brings plenty of left-handed power to the lineup, he proved in his time with the Pittsburgh Pirates that he's a defensive liability at both third and first base.
Luckily for the O's, they have the option to use Alvarez as their designated hitter. However, doing so means compromising their defense elsewhere on the roster, most likely in right field.
Here's what ESPN's Buster Olney had to say about the situation in his morning Insider column:
"With Chris Davis re-signed to a record-setting deal to play first base, the only way to have Alvarez and Mark Trumbo in the lineup at the same time would be by playing Trumbo in right field. Maybe the Orioles will be OK with that, or maybe not; [manager Buck Showalter] has typically preferred superior defense in his alignments while managing the Orioles, and Trumbo's metrics suggest he's well below average in the outfield. In 1,028 2/3 innings over the past two seasons in Arizona and Seattle, he has minus-12 Defensive Runs Saved as an outfielder."
This is perhaps the most likely alignment the Orioles would employ. Trumbo has already seen time in right field this spring and is more expendable than Davis, who could injure himself playing at a position he isn't fully comfortable with. On the other hand, Davis, who has a minus-4 DRS in 569 1/3 career innings as an outfielder, might be the better option to patrol right.
From Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun:
"Keep in mind that Trumbo is a better first baseman than right fielder, and Chris Davis has played well in right field," Encina writes. "It's pure speculation ... but the Orioles could have Davis shift to right field and allow Trumbo to play first base."
Regardless of how the O's decide to align themselves, their offense figures to feature a good amount of home runs and strikeouts. With Alvarez in tow, Baltimore now has six players who have slugged 30 or more home runs in a season in its lineup. However, Davis (31 percent), Alvarez (26.7 percent) and Trumbo (24.2 percent) were all among the top 25 in terms of strikeout percentage last year.
Here are a few more rumors making their way around the league today:
Jake Arrieta: The Chicago Cubs discussed a "mega extension" with Arrieta this offseason, Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports. According to Heyman, Arrieta was looking to land a seven-year deal, but the Cubs weren't comfortable with that kind of length. Speaking with reporters, including Carrie Muskat of MLB.com, this morning, Arrieta confirmed as much. "I want to stay here for six or seven years, and that's it," the 30-year-old said. Having won the NL Cy Young last season, Arrieta's value might never be higher, which he is likely trying to cash in on. However, the Cubs control the right-hander for two more seasons, so they likely aren't in as much of a rush to get a long-term deal done. Heyman tweets that the Cubs' front office loves Arrieta and will likely try to work something out with him at another time (perhaps next offseason).
A.J. Hinch: The Houston Astros and their manager agreed to a "revised contract" this offseason that guarantees Hinch more money and puts him in position to stay with the team longer, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports. While the exact terms of the contract are unknown, the new deal is believed to be guaranteed through at least 2018, one person familiar with it told Drellich. Given the success of last year's team, it's no surprise that the Astros would make a move to keep Hinch in place for a longer period of time. With the team being built around young stars, having a familiar voice at manager will likely be key for Houston to continue improving over the next few years.
Tim Lincecum: The San Diego Padres have been "very active" on Lincecum, the free-agent right-hander's agent, Rick Thurman, said Monday on the Mighty 1090. San Diego has been frequently linked to Lincecum over the last month and figures to give the former NL Cy Young a chance to make its rotation. In the interview, Thurman says Lincecum is expected to pitch in a showcase in Arizona "sometime in the next week or two," which provides a template as to when the 31-year-old will be expected to sign with a club. "I've had a number of teams that have wanted to sign him, even three, four months ago, and walk him through the rehab," Thurman said. "But we really wanted to wait and get everybody involved so everybody could come see him throw. And the day he does, I think there's going to be a lot of really surprised people."
Jason Heyward: If you're a fan of "what-if" trades, then this one will likely interest you. According to Heyman, the New York Yankees are believed to have made a strong push to land Heyward from the Atlanta Braves before he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals last offseason. In a potential "five-for-five blockbuster," the Yankees would have received Heyward, Andrelton Simmons, Melvin Upton Jr., Chris Johnson and David Carpenter for Luis Severino, Aaron Judge, Manny Banuelos, Ian Clarkin and Gary Sanchez. However, New York didn't pull the trigger on the deal, Heyman notes. Of course, later in the offseason, the Yankees ended up trading Banuelos to the Braves in a deal involving Carpenter.