The Pirates have yet to approach third baseman Pedro Alvarez about a contract extension, but there appears to be mutual interest in a possible deal.
Alvarez’s agent, Scott Boras, told Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Post-Tribune that he is “open to the idea” of an extension. Meanwhile, Pirates president Frank Coonelly is on the same page.
“Open minds often lead to common ground and, ultimately, to agreement,” Coonelly said. “We also have an open mind on these issues and will continue to evaluate seriously the merits of a long-term agreement with Pedro, just like we do with all of our young players.”
Alvarez’s original contract with the Pirates includes a $700,000 team option for 2014, but he can void it if he qualifies for salary arbitration. The Pirates fully expect that to happen, so there figures to be some negotiating this winter no matter what. Even if the option is voided, Alvarez remains under team control through 2016. The Pirates would almost certainly want to buy out a free agent year or two as part of an extension, which could be a challenge with Boras involved.
Alvarez has struck out in 31.1 percent of the time in the majors and owns a lowly .232 batting average, but he brings legitimate pop from the third base position. The 26-year-old launched 30 home runs last season and has 10 in 47 games so far this year.
Newsday’s Marc Carig reports that the Mets may move Asdrubal Cabrera to second base when he returns from the disabled list. Cabrera has been on the disabled list since June 13 with a sprained left thumb, but he’s expected to be activated on Friday.
Cabrera, 31, last played second base in 2014 with the Nationals. He has played shortstop exclusively as a Met the last two seasons. Jose Reyes would continue to play shortstop if the Mets were to go through with the position change. Cabrera would displace T.J. Rivera, who has been playing second base in place of the injured Neil Walker.
In 196 plate appearances this season, Cabrera is hitting .244/.321/.392 with six home runs and 20 RBI. He has made 11 defensive errors, which is tied for the third-most among shortstops behind Tim Anderson (16) and Dansby Swanson (12).
Brewers closer Corey Knebel set a modern major league record for relievers to start a season, as Thursday’s appearance marked his 38th consecutive appearance with a strikeout. He set down the side in order in the ninth inning, striking Josh Bell out to start the frame.
Aroldis Chapman held the record previously, recording a strikeout in his first 37 appearances of the season in 2014 with the Reds.
Knebel, 25, has flown under the radar despite having an incredibly good season. He moved into the closer’s role in mid-May when Neftali Feliz, now a free agent, struggled. After Thursday’s appearance, Knebel is 12-for-15 in save chances with a 0.96 ERA and a 65/17 K/BB ratio in 37 2/3 innings.