Although he was coming off a 22-home run campaign with the Orioles in 2016, Pedro Alvarez was only brought back by the organization on a minor-league deal and spent nearly the entire season at Triple-A Norfolk. Alvarez's power was still evident as he hit 26 home runs at Triple-A, but he only slashed .239/.294/.442 with a 23 percent strikeout rate, so he didn't exactly quell the concerns about his ability to consistently make contact and get on base. As a left-handed bat with legit power, Alvarez still has some appeal on the free-agent market, but his struggles against lefties coupled with his lack of defensive prowess dwindles down the number of teams that'd have serious interest. His best chance of making an Opening Day roster would be with an AL team short on power off the bench.
Alvarez signed a minor-league contract with the Orioles on Sunday, Rich Dubroff of PressBoxonline.com reports. Alvarez is two years removed from slugging 22 home runs as the Orioles' primary designated hitter, but the veteran first baseman spent the majority of his 2017 campaign with Triple-A Norfolk, where he slashed .239/.294/.442 over nearly 600 plate appearances. Alvarez will likely open the season in Triple-A again, where he'll serve as organization depth at designed hitter and first base.
Alvarez went 3-for-3 with a solo home run, two runs and two walks in Monday's loss to Boston. For the first time in his eight-year career, Alvarez reached base five times in a single game. He's hitting .333/.429/.667 through 14 plate appearances since being recalled earlier this month. The once prominent MLB slugger has only two starts in his eight games thus far, but Alvarez is a decent value option in daily formats when the veteran is in the lineup.
Alvarez's contract was selected from Triple-A Norfolk on Friday. He failed to impress at Triple-A this year, hitting .239/.294/.442 with 26 home runs in 138 games. Given his inability to provide quality defense anywhere on the diamond, and the Orioles' plethora of better versions of that type of player, Alvarez will primarily be used as a pinch hitter in the final month.
Alvarez is being considered for a September callup, Eduardo A. Encina of The Baltimore Sun reports. Inked to a minor-league deal in March, Alvarez was all set to opt out in late May but the Orioles convinced him to stay put. It sounds like his patience may pay off, as Alvarez is in the mix to come up and provide additional thump off the bench over the season's final month. The 30-year-old has hit just .241 with a .296 on-base percentage with Triple-A Norfolk this year, but the trademark power is still there (26 homers in 584 plate appearances).
The Orioles have discussed bringing Alvarez up from Triple-A Norfolk, although no reports suggest a move is imminent, Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports reports. Manager Buck Showalter recently said his club has been keeping tabs on Alvarez's minor-league success. Through 113 games with the Tides, the seven-year MLB veteran has 25 home runs, 79 RBI and 52 runs. Alvarez has even cut down on his strikeout rate, managing a career-low 22.8 percent through 487 plate appearances. He'll almost certainly be a September callup, but there isn't much room for him in the current O's lineup.