A corner infielder with Pittsburgh and a designated hitter with Baltimore last season, Alvarez finalized a minor league contract Monday and would get a $2 million, one-year deal if added to the 40-man roster.
"Looking forward to the opportunity to get to learn the position as best as possible," Alvarez said. "Obviously, whenever you try playing a new position you've got to put in a lot of work. And the one thing you can't replicate is game reps, so just looking forward to getting the opportunity to go out there and just play."
Alvarez also joined the Orioles in the middle of spring training last year. He has never played the outfield in college or professionally.
"I'm going to be surprised if he can't do it. Pretty athletic. Kind of fits his skill set, too. He's got a plus arm, and he's going to work hard at it," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "He's going to work there exclusively. Hopefully we'll have a feel for it by the time we get towards the end. We've got plenty of time."
Showalter said Alvarez will get time in both corners.
"I like to go where the arm is and then work our way around. He'll focus more on right. He may get some reps in left," Showalter said.
Showalter's suggestion of trying the outfield was appreciated by Alvarez.
"I think that the fact that it was brought up to me showed a desire to have me around, and I appreciated that conversation last year, and in the same token, it was coming from a good place in his heart, looking out for my career," Alvarez said. "You can never be too versatile, for lack of a better term. That's how I took that conversation, a desire to have me around, and at the same time just looking out for my best interests."
If added to the big league roster, Alvarez would have the chance to earn $3.5 million in performance bonuses based on plate appearances: $250,000 each for 200, 250, 300 and 350; and $500,000 apiece for 400, 450, 500, 550 and 600.
A left-handed hitter who turned 30 last month, Alvarez batted .249 with 22 homers and 49 RBI last year after finalizing an agreement with the Orioles on March 10. He was mostly a platoon player, getting 334 of 376 plate appearances against right-handed pitchers.
Alvarez had a $5.75 million base salary last year and earned $200,000 in performance bonuses.