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Pirates face decision with Pedro Alvarez

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The deadline to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players is tonight at 11:59, and the Bucs will have to decide what to do with a number of key players. Here they are, with arbitration estimates via MLB Trade Rumors.

Neil Walker (5.166) – $10.7MM
Francisco Cervelli (5.146) – $2.5MM
Mark Melancon (5.098) – $10.0MM
Chris Stewart (5.091) – $1.6MM
Pedro Alvarez (5.085) – $8.1MM
Tony Watson (4.101) – $4.6MM
Jared Hughes (3.162) – $2.2MM
Jordy Mercer (3.095) – $1.8MM
Jeff Locke (3.020) – $3.5MM

Most of these decisions are, or should be, easy ones. A number of these players could possibly be traded later this offseason, including Neil Walker and Mark Melancon. But the Pirates will still tender them, since they should have trade value despite their rising costs (and since there are also reasonable chances the Bucs will keep them anyway). There is, perhaps, a possibility that the Pirates could non-tender Jeff Locke, but even he is a good bet to be tendered, since he'll be reasonably cheap next year and pitchers who can throw 150 innings don't grow on trees.

The player to watch tonight will be Pedro Alvarez, whose case is the least straightforward. If you read this site, you know the deal -- Alvarez has tremendous raw power, but he negates most of its value with tons of strikeouts and defensive blunders. I wrote about Alvarez's non-tender case at MLBTR last weekend, and most of that still holds true (although the Orioles no longer look like as good of a possible trade suitor, since they recently completed a deal for Mark Trumbo). It's not clear to me what the Pirates will do tonight -- they could tender Alvarez, or non-tender him, or trade him. The only thing I can predict even reasonably confidently is that it will happen right before the deadline.