Bucs, Pedro Alvarez Strike New Deal

It's a four-year, major-league deal worth $6.355 million, the Post-Gazette reports. It's pending a physical. The deal calls for a bonus of $6 million, just like before, except now it's paid over four years instead of two. Alvarez is also guaranteed about $87,000 for each year he spends in the minors, as well as salaries just above the league minimum for years he spends in the majors. He would have to be added to the Bucs' 40-man roster right away.

I have so many questions about this I'm not sure I can list them all, but the biggest one is this: why should this deal have any meaning? Both parties agree that the Pirates and Alvarez already had a deal; the only question is whether or not it was struck before midnight. Given that neither Alvarez nor the Pirates are officially involved in the grievance that's currently taking place, what power would either party have to strike a new deal over a month after the deadline? In any case, the Post-Gazette's sources indicate that this deal will probably not be affected by the grievance, so let's proceed...

Forget about the monetary value of the deal; Scott Boras will now be able to claim that his client got the top bonus in the draft, but as I see it, the money, at least in terms of the $6.355 million, is basically a wash. The real issue is that the Pirates would have a $1.63 million option for the fifth year, with Alvarez being able to void the option (the Pirates would retain his rights) if he's arbitration eligible. So the Pirates could end up paying a bit more than they would've for the fifth year, but only if Alvarez takes more than a year and a half to get through the minors (in which case he wouldn't be arbitration-eligible for that fifth year). Alvarez is pretty likely to be in the majors by mid-2010, so if everything goes as planned, that $1.63 million option shouldn't be an issue. (And the Pirates maintain his rights for six major-league years no matter how things turn out, so don't worry about Alvarez declaring free agency after that fifth year.)

Whew! That's a mouthful. But don't worry about it too much. What I'm sure Boras and Alvarez like most about this deal is that it's a major league contract, which starts the clock ticking on Alvarez's option years. However, the only way this matters much for the Pirates is if Alvarez is nowhere near as good as advertised, and he takes more than three years to stick in the big leagues. What this deal seems to do is insulate Alvarez somewhat if he turns out not to be very good. If he turns out to be good, and he probably will, the deal probably won't have much affect on the amount of money he would have gotten.

Assuming this deal is allowed to stick, the Pirates get an end to this whole mess. They look like they caved, and I suppose they did, but honestly it's worth it to have Alvarez in uniform, especially if they can get him into a fall or winter league. If this deal sticks, I'm just happy it's over and glad to have Alvarez in the fold. I'm sure the Pirates will get a ton of negative PR for this, but whatever. Alvarez is more important than some bad PR and I'm glad the Pirates are willing to absorb some of it in order to start the career of a potential franchise player.

I'm going home for the night, but I'll see if anything needs updated when I get in tomorrow. I'm sure there are some details that haven't come to light yet.

UPDATE: The Post-Gazette now reports that the "next step" toward finalizing this contract is getting Major League Baseball and the players' union to settle the grievance. They will work on that today.

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