Pedro Alvarez took grounders at first base yesterday, perhaps the sign of a new chapter in his tenure with the Pirates. Alvarez was recently removed from his regular role at third base after committing a league-leading 24 errors. All-Star Josh Harrison is expected to get the lion’s share of the playing time at the hot corner going forward.
Alvarez seems at peace with the transition, though. He had a discussion with manager Clint Hurdle and was philosophical about it in a discussion with the media about it later. Via MLB.com’s Tom Singer and Stephen Pianovich:
“It’s just another opportunity to help this team any way possible,” Alvarez said Saturday prior to another cram session at first. “I think it shows the faith and the desire and the want that the organization has in me for me to help in any way possible. Moving over, taking ground balls at first … gives Hurdle and this team some options to be able to use me any way possible. I’m thankful for the opportunity.”
Along with the poor defense, Alvarez’s power at the plate has declined. A year after leading the league in home runs with 36, he has only 15 along with 49 RBI and a pedestrian .234/.320/.400 slash line.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.