Pedro Alvarez out at third base, but no position change imminent

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Earlier today, Matthew Pouliot discussed the ugliness of the Pirates’ third base predicament, as Pedro Alvarez has been an untenable defensive liability for the club this season. There was talk of moving Alvarez from third base to first base, but that would displace Ike Davis who is Alvarez’s equal against right-handed pitching.

Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune reports that, although Josh Harrison will take over third base on an everyday basis going forward, the Pirates won’t consider a position change for Alvarez until after the season. The Pirates also signed Jayson Nix to a one-year major league contract earlier today.

Alvarez has managed a mediocre .235/.322/.402 slash line with 15 home runs and 49 RBI this season, but nobody has made more errors at the hot corner than Alvarez (24). Athletics third baseman Josh Donaldson comes in second with 18, so there’s a veritable gap and it explains the quagmire in Pittsburgh.

Mariners claim Kaleb Cowart off waivers from Angels

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The Mariners announced that the club claimed Kaleb Cowart off waivers from the Angels. Interestingly, the Mariners list Cowart as both an outfielder and a right-handed pitcher. Cowart has never pitched professionally, but the Mariners will try him as a two-way player next season, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports. Cowart was a highly regarded pitcher in high school.

Cowart, 26, has played all over the field, spending most of his time at third base and second base, but also logging a handful of innings at first base, shortstop, and left field.  He hasn’t hit much at all, owning a career .177/.241/.293 triple-slash line across 380 plate appearances in the big leagues. It makes sense to try another angle.

Shohei Ohtani, of course, is helping to popularize the rebirth of the two-way player. In his first year in the majors after having played in Japan for five years, Ohtani won the AL Rookie of the Year Award by posting a .925 OPS in 367 plate appearances along with a 3.31 ERA over 10 starts. Don’t expect Cowart to hit those lofty numbers, but additional versatility could prolong his life in the majors.