The Pirates have cut Pedro Alvarez, Jose Tabata, Jon Van Every and Doug Bernier from major league camp. Van Every and Bernier are no real surprise; I thought Van Every might have some remote shot at a bench outfielder job, but not much of one, given the amount of competition there. And Bernier is just Class AAA infield depth.
As for Alvarez, you can imagine this is about service time if you want, and maybe that really is a factor--I don't know. It wouldn't bother me if it were, because I don't want Alvarez leaving a year early, or to have the Pirates paying $5 million extra for him in a year in which they could be competitive. But there are very compelling baseball reasons to leave him in the minors too. A few months ago I wrote about the parallels between Alex Gordon's career and Alvarez's. Like Alvarez, Gordon was widely viewed as a top talent when he was coming out of college, and he spent his first pro season after being drafted just destroying the ball at Class AA. The Royals made him their starting third baseman at the start of the following year, and it's been all downhill since then. Many baseball people think the reason why is that Gordon didn't have enough time in the minors.
To me, it's pretty basic. There is no urgent need to have Alvarez in the big leagues right now, since the Pirates are terrible. There is no proof that Alvarez would be a star right away and, judging from the mediocre performances of fellow college phenoms like Gordon and Matt Wieters, reasons to think he might not. Alvarez also has not had a day of hitting at the Class AAA level. That's where I'd send him, regardless of considerations about playing time or money.
The Pirates also reassigned four injured pitchers, leaving the number of players in camp at 45.