SARASOTA, Fla. – Over the last four months, the Orioles spent nearly a quarter of a billion dollars. The last of the signings, Pedro Alvarez, who shaved off his beard, was on display before the Orioles’ game on Thursday.
The Orioles officially signed Alvarez to a one-year, $5.75 million contract with incentives that could add another $1.25 million.
“This is a very potent lineup already. Any time you can have a lineup like that, it’s a big headache for the other team. Everyone’s a threat, and again, I think it’d be such a privilege to be part of a lineup like that and be able to contribute any way possible,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez, who was not tendered a contract by the Pittsburgh Pirates last December, is the latest addition to a power packed lineup. Over the winter the Orioles re-signed Chris Davis and Matt Wieters and added outfielders Hyun Soo Kim and Mark Trumbo. Kim was signed as a free agent and Trumbo picked up in a trade with Seattle.
Holdovers J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones, Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop also have power.
“Who wouldn’t want to come and potentially be in a lineup with the guys that are here already?” Alvarez said.
The addition of Alvarez excites the Orioles players.
“I think every guy in our lineup has the potential to hit 30 home runs, and so that’s pretty ridiculous if you think about it,” Kevin Gausman said.
“It’s going to be a big thing. He’s going to play well in the east with all those small ballparks. I think our team is going to hit a lot of home runs. I’m looking forward to that.”
Manager Buck Showalter didn’t play Alvarez on Thursday and won’t play him on Friday and Saturday. It’s possible he could play on Sunday against Minnesota in Fort Myers.
Alvarez watched the Orioles’ 4-4 tie with the New York Yankees from the bench.
He missed the first three weeks of spring training as the free agent processed neared its end.
“Patience is the key. Obviously it was something different, but you have to be comfortable being uncomfortable. I just took it day by day and tried to prepare as best as possible for when the time came. I’ve got some good people in my corner who have been through the ringer before,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez, who was a potent offensive force for Pittsburgh, was moved off third in 2014 because of poor fielding. He made 24 errors in 99 games. In 2015, he played first and made 23 errors in 124 games at first base.
With the Orioles he’s likely to be the designated hitter.
“My job is to help this team in whatever capacity they need me at, so whether that’s DH or that’s in the field, I’m confident I can bring a lot of help to this team and that’s the reason why I’m here. Whatever is needed of me, that’s what I’ll do,” Alvarez said.
Manager Buck Showalter said that he’ll consider playing Alvarez in the field.
“I don’t believe in setting limitations about him being a DH against right-handed pitching. It’s much more than that. I think you’re going to be—some people don’t realize this is an athletic guy who’s got potential to give us a lot of options around the field, and continue to keep him in that. He’s just not going to be a pure DH. He’s shown the ability to damage against left-handed pitching too,” Showalter said.
Last October when the 2015 season ended, Orioles Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette said that the Orioles would be a good team in 2016. He wasn’t sure who would be on it.
We had a lot of players that were leaving the club last year so we knew we had a lot of work to do in the offseason. We were able to bring back some of the players that did good work for us and we were able to bring in some other players like Pedro,” Duquette said.
With Alvarez’s addition, the Orioles payroll could be nearly $155 million, a figure that’s the ninth highest in baseball. A few months ago, the idea of spending that much would have been impossible.
Showalter credits Orioles managing partner Peter Angelos for the willingness to spend.
“Every time we talked about something, he said ‘go do it.’ You look at all the things we did, and not that it surprises me, it’s a great confidence that he’s showing in our players and our staff and our organization that he [listens] when we tell him what we might need,” Showalter said.
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