Pedro Alvarez was the top-rated player entering the 2008 Major League Baseball draft. Scouts described him as a polished and poised hitter with power. Defensively, his arm and range were rated as average, and scouts felt he would be okay as a third baseman but that he would probably make a pretty good first baseman.
He made his Major League debut on June 16, 2010, at PNC Park against the Chicago White Sox, committing one error and allowing two hard-hit balls to get past him down the line. He appeared in 95 games in 2010, committing 17 errors with a .938 fielding percentage.
Last season was no better for Alvarez. He appeared in 66 games at third base and committed 14 errors, finishing with a .935 fielding percentage. For his career, he has appeared in 160 games at third, committing 31 errors with a .937 fielding percentage. Not Gold Glove numbers.
With the Pirates in pursuit of a first baseman, now may be the time for the them to consider the 2008 scouting assessment that Alvarez could be a pretty good first baseman.
Pirates general manager Neal Huntington appears okay with those options.
"Is there any upgrade available? That's what we have to explore," Huntington said. "We do have some internal options, so it's not like we are desperate and have to overpay a free agent or overpay in a trade to fill it."
As Langosch wrote, Jones has never hit well against left-handed pitching, and Hague has yet to make his Major League debut. However, Jones led the Pirates in home runs in both 2009 and 2010 and finished second in 2011.
The Pirates did offer Derrek Lee arbitration, but it is unlikely he will accept. The remaining available first baseman, other than Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, would not offer much of an upgrade, leaving the door open to move Alvarez to first.