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.

Angels’ Andrelton Simmons opts out of final 5 games

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shortstop Andrelton Simmons has opted out of the remainder of the Los Angeles Angels’ season.

The Angels announced the four-time Gold Glove-winning shortstop’s decision Tuesday before they faced the San Diego Padres.

Los Angeles (24-31) is still technically in the playoff race with five games left in the regular season, and Simmons clearly caught the Angels by surprise, although the club said it respected his decision.

The 31-year-old Simmons, who can be a free agent this winter, is finishing his fifth year with the Angels. After spraining his ankle in late July and missing 22 games, Simmons is currently batting .297 with 10 RBIs while playing his usual stellar defense, albeit with four errors in 30 games.

“At this time, I feel this is the best decision for me and my family,” Simmons said in a statement. “We don’t know what the future holds, but we would like to sincerely thank the Angels organization and Angels fans for welcoming and making us feel at home.”

Manager Joe Maddon acknowledged he was caught by surprise when general manager Billy Eppler told him about Simmons’ decision Monday night after Simmons went 1 for 4 with an RBI single in the Angels’ home finale. Maddon texted Simmons, but hadn’t heard back by Tuesday afternoon.

“I’ve really enjoyed this guy a lot,” Maddon said. “I’m a big fan. This guy is a good baseball player, and I’ve enjoyed the conversations, too. It’s just unfortunate. He’s really a big part of what we’re doing right now.”

Simmons is a favorite of Angels fans for his defensive wizardry, and owner Arte Moreno has described Simmons as perhaps his favorite player to watch on the roster. Simmons has batted .281 with 36 homers and 281 RBIs during his five seasons with Los Angeles, and he won the Gold Glove in 2017 and 2018.

“He’s a thinking kind of a player, and I’ve enjoyed him a lot,” Maddon said.

Simmons will be a free agent this winter, and the Angels have an obvious replacement for him in David Fletcher, who has a .374 on-base percentage while regularly hitting leadoff for the Angels during his breakout major league season. Fletcher has been playing second base since Simmons’ return from injury.

But the Angels haven’t publicly closed the door on Simmons’ return, and he could be given a qualifying offer. Maddon has repeatedly said he would like Simmons to return in 2021 if possible.

The Angels haven’t had a winning season during Simmons’ five years in Anaheim, although Simmons said last week he wasn’t discouraged by the lack of team success. Simmons played his first four major league seasons in Atlanta, and he hasn’t appeared in the postseason since 2013.

Simmons also said he hadn’t been involved in any recent contract talks with the Angels, but he had enjoyed playing for the club. When asked if he wanted to return to the Halos, Simmons said he would have to “plead the fifth.”