Pedro Alvarez is not at Pirates’ minicamp. He is not required to be. But maybe he should be?

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Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has a story about Pirates’ minicamp. And Pedro Alvarez’s absence therefrom. Which is totally cool per the collective bargaining agreement because Alvarez is on the 40-man and guys on the 40-man are not required to attend minicamps.

But Alvarez is also in a unique situation in which his ineptness at third base required him to move to first base last August, and a foot injury kept him from actually playing first base. Since the Pirates are expecting him to be their everyday first baseman this season, he could use all the time he can get to figure out the position. But GM Neal Huntington knows he can’t force Alvarez to come and get the extra work:

“We open the facility (because) we want as many guys as possible to come together and get ready to go because we’re not too far away from spring training,” Huntington said. “The union, obviously, has been very aggressive in (its) right to protect the players from having to work too hard in January and be under club control in January. We get that.

“Pedro had the complete option to come or not. We expect him to be ready to go on the first day of spring training and to get after it.”

I don’t think it’s crazy for those comments to be interpreted as “Jesus, we sure wish Pedro had his butt down here learning first base, but I suppose I can’t say that.” And man, I would love to hear Huntington’s off-the-record comments about all of that.

If I were Alvarez, I would first say “oh my God, how did I become Pedro Alvarez?!” But then I would probably say to myself “you know, it may be a good idea to be in minicamp, even if I don’t have to be.”

Free agent slugger José Abreu signs 3-year, $58.5M deal with Astros

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
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HOUSTON — Jose Abreu and the World Series champion Astros agreed to a three-year, $58.5 million contract, adding another powerful bat to Houston’s lineup.

Abreu, the 2020 AL MVP, gets $19.5 million in each of the next three seasons.

He spent his first nine major league seasons with the Chicago White Sox. The first baseman became a free agent after batting .304 with 15 home runs, 75 RBIs and an .824 OPS this year.

With the Astros, he replaces Yuli Gurriel at first base in a batting order that also features All-Star sluggers Yordan Alvarez, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker.

Gurriel became a free agent after Houston defeated the Philadelphia Phillies this month for its second World Series championship.

The 35-year-old Abreu becomes the biggest free agent to switch teams so far this offseason. Born in Cuba, the three-time All-Star and 2014 AL Rookie of the Year is a .292 career hitter in the majors with 243 homers, 863 RBIs and an .860 OPS.

The Astros announced the signing. Abreu was scheduled to be introduced in a news conference at Minute Maid Park.

He would get a $200,000 for winning an MVP award, $175,000 for finishing second in the voting, $150,000 for third, $125,000 for fourth and $100,000 for fifth. Abreu also would get $100,000 for earning World Series MVP and $75,000 for League Championship Series MVP, $75,000 for making the All-Star team and $75,000 for winning a Gold Glove or a Silver Slugger.

Abreu gets a hotel suite on road trips and the right to buy a luxury suite for all Astros home games.