Pirates and Pedro Alvarez open to contract extension

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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.

Astros talking to Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole about extensions

Justin Verlander
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It’s extension season and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros — who already agreed to an extension with Alex Bregman — are discussing contract extensions with Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole.

Funny thing about Verlander, by the way: when he got his current $180 million deal, most people fell into the “oh, there’s an overpay!” column. What’s more, this past winter, when everyone was talking about how bad it is to give guys big long term deals, Verlander’s name was notably absent in the conversation despite the fact that his deal has turned out to be quite good. I suppose that says something about how good the anti-long-term deal folks are at cherrypicking.

That being said, Rosenthal says “it would be an upset” if either Verlander or Cole signed extensions. I can see that. Verlander is locked up this year and has a vesting option for 2020, and a lot can happen in a year or two. Cole is a Scott Boras client and Boras clients tend to hit the market rather than sign extensions. Perhaps their former teammate, Dallas Keuchel‘s, terrible experience on the free agent market this winter will alter that calculus. Hard to say.