Pedro Alvarez has established himself as the Pittsburgh Pirates’ third baseman of the present and near future, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t use a veteran backup.
That must be the Pirates’ thinking this week at the MLB Winter Meetings, as CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that Pittsburgh is one of several teams interested in the services of 36-year-old hot-corner specialist Eric Chavez.
Chavez’ agent Scott Leventhal told Heyman that his client “wants to be a part of a winner,” which would explain why the other teams inquiring about him include recent playoff qualifiers in Tampa Bay, Texas, Atlanta, Washington and Pittsburgh, in addition to the Yankees and Diamondbacks.
Chavez appeared in 80 games last season for Arizona, turning in an impressive .281/.332/.478 triple-slash line, a rate of production about 20 percent better than the average National League third basemen. The six-time Gold Glove winner also maintains a good defensive reputation, even as age has reduced his range somewhat.
He would appear to be a decent fit for the Pirates if the price is right, as he doesn’t project to get more than part-time work in Pittsburgh. The lefty-swinging Chavez got 222 of his 254 plate appearances in 2013 against right-handed pitchers, so he doesn’t match up as a quasi-platoon partner for Alvarez, although he could be a decent late-game defensive replacement.
Chavez signed a one-year, $3-million contract with the Diamondbacks last winter, coming off a superb 2012 season with the Yankees. He hit .281/.348/.496 in New York that year, which translated to about 1 1/2 wins above replacement.
Check back with City of Champions all this week for further updates on the Pirates’ doings at the Winter Meetings in Orlando.