Bucs ink No. 2 overall pick Alvarez
Prospect's four-year deal includes $6 million signing bonus
MILWAUKEE -- It took 71 days for the first agreement and then 40 additional days for the second one. But now it's finally official: Pedro Alvarez is ready to begin his professional career in Pittsburgh's organization.
"I just want to say I'm very happy to be here, very happy to begin my professional career today," Alvarez said, speaking publicly for the first time since being drafted on June 5. "Every day I am going to work my hardest to be the best player that I can be. This is a big day for me and my family."
The well-documented saga between the two sides was laid to rest when Alvarez underwent a physical in Pittsburgh on Wednesday and then put ink to paper in signing a Major League contract with the Pirates that is worth $6.355 million in guaranteed money. That money will be paid over a four-year period.
Alvarez's new agreement puts him in position to still receive a $6 million signing bonus, which is equal to the signing bonus initially agreed upon back on Aug. 15. However, Alvarez will also be guaranteed at least a yearly salary of $88,750 for the next four years. If Alvarez makes it to the Majors before the end of those four years, which most expect him to do, that salary will increase significantly.
There are also two club options attached to the agreement.
The Pirates made the official announcement shortly before 6 p.m. ET and held a conference call a short time later with general manager Neal Huntington, team president Frank Coonelly and Alvarez participating. This was done in place of a formal press conference at PNC Park, which is the typical protocol for the team's first-round selection.
With this new agreement reached, Alvarez has been taken off Major League Baseball's restricted list and will immediately head to Bradenton, Fla. There, he will join the Pirates' instructional league camp, which began on Sept. 17.
There are no plans to send Alvarez to winter ball at this time. The Pirates already had to submit their rosters for both the Arizona and Hawaii Fall Leagues before this new agreement was reached. There is a chance that Alvarez could be added to the Hawaiian roster if a spot unexpectedly opens. However, that appears unlikely.
Because Alvarez's agreement was for a Major League contract, the third baseman had to be immediately placed on the team's 40-man roster. In order to make room for Alvarez, left-hander Tom Gorzelanny was placed on the 60-day disabled list.
The blessing for the Pirates and Alvarez to complete a reworked deal came after MLB issued a statement on Wednesday afternoon announcing that the deadline-signing grievance filed by the Players Association against the Commissioner's Office has been settled.
After Alvarez agreed to a $6 million signing bonus and a Minor League contract back on Aug. 15, the former Vanderbilt third baseman never signed the corresponding contract. Through his agent, Scott Boras, Alvarez claimed that the agreement was reached after the midnight signing deadline and under an unfairly granted extension.
The Players Association subsequently filed a grievance, saying the Commissioner's Office had unilaterally extended the signing deadline without the consent of the MLBPA. A grievance hearing was held and arbitrator Shyam Das heard one day's worth of testimony on Sept. 10. The second day of the hearing, scheduled for this past Tuesday, was put on hold to see if the two sides could come to some sort of agreement on their own.
At the beginning of the grievance process, the Pirates adamantly rejected the notion of reopening negotiations. On Wednesday, Coonelly explained the reasons behind changing that stance.
"It became clear to us that Pedro's development as a player and his progression to Pittsburgh would be impaired if the grievance process continued," he said. "We were extremely pleased that the parties were able to restructure the agreement to a manner that was acceptable to both sides."
The agreement that was finalized on Wednesday emphasizes that the Aug. 15 deadline for signing players taken in the First-Year Player's Draft must be more strictly enforced in the future. It explicitly states that any extension given in the future must have the approval of both sides. And it will give an arbitrator the power to void contracts in the future if it is determined that an unfair extension was granted.
"From the beginning our primary concern was allowing Mr. Alvarez and Mr. [Eric] Hosmer to begin their professional careers as quickly as possible and this settlement accomplishes that goal," said Rob Manfred, MLB's executive vice president of labor relations. "We fully support and welcome the changes to the manner in which the August 15th deadline will be administered. We believe that the changes will result in a cleaner and more consistent application of the deadline which is in the best interests of both clubs and players."
Coonelly, who worked to create these new Draft signing rules under his previous position in the Commissioner's Office, also saw this as the positive in this process.
"The rules that were drafted were not as clear as they should have been and the Players Association and the Commissioner's Office, in the settlement that they reached, set out very detailed rules that will govern next year and in the future," Coonelly said. "Players and clubs that negotiate contracts like to know what the rules are and they have certainly clarified the rules."
While the Draft rules may be more clearly worded, the reality is that Alvarez must now work to replace his shattered image in Pittsburgh. The third baseman is confident that since he is now cleared to begin his professional career, his on-field abilities can do that work for him.
"I just want the fans of Pittsburgh to look at me as the professional player that I am now and to judge me on the field as a player," said Alvarez, who has been conditioning and hitting with his father since his season at Vanderbilt ended. "Starting today, I will work my hardest to be the best I can be."
Alvarez also rejected claims that the demand for new negotiations was solely driven by Boras.
"Throughout this whole process, I, myself, wanted a fair [negotiation]," Alvarez said. "I thought for myself and made decisions for myself."
The agreement reached between the Players Associate and the Commissioner's Office on Wednesday has also cleared the way for Kansas City's Hosmer, the No. 3 pick in this year's Draft, to resume playing. Hosmer had been pulled from the Royals' Minor League system pending an outcome to this hearing.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.