It was just a regular day. Zach Duke was pitching in an afternoon matchup with the Cubs. You spent the morning wondering if he could make it past the fourth inning. Then you tuned into the radio broadcast and were blindsided by the news that Pedro Alvarez was refusing to sign with the Pirates. Then Duke went out and pitched a very solid game. Not your ordinary day. Other than the fact that the Pirates lost, of course.
There are plenty of issues in this case, but it basically boils down to two questions. Did the Pirates and Alvarez agree to a deal before or after midnight on August 15? If it was after the deadline, what does that mean? The Pirates claim that everything is in order. Scott Boras wants to prove that the deal was late, and then wants to renegotiate Alvarez’s contract for more money. I’m not sure how that could be a possibility, so maybe Boras is simply using Alvarez to attack the signing deadline that he seems to be so strongly against. This issue may be more of a Boras vs. MLB confrontation than a Pedro vs. the Pirates conflict.
From all that I have read about the subject, it seems that the most likely result will keep Alvarez with the Pirates. It is looking more and more like the commissioner’s office approved a deadline extension for the Pirates. But they should not need to contact the Player’s Association first because the collective bargaining agreement does not apply to minor league players. If the Pirates signed Alvarez to a Major League contract, I would be a bit more worried. If the ruling ends up going in the favor of the Player’s Association, there is a good chance it will only apply to future situations. In that case, Alvarez will have little choice but to report, or else remain on the restricted list. The other possible result would be that the contract is void, Alvarez would return to the draft pool for 2009 and the Pirates would receive the third pick in next year’s draft. That would benefit nobody.
One thing I would caution against is jumping to conclusions too quickly. I have heard many fans saying that they no longer want Alvarez to be a part of the organization because of this matter. That is ridiculous. I am as frustrated as the next person about the stupid situation we are in right now, and wish we could simply get Alvarez on a field somewhere. But this is a unique talent that, from most reports, seems to also be a good person. I would encourage everyone to wait until the facts come out before giving up on him. I am guessing that next year, he will be in the organization spraying line drives all over some minor league diamond. If that happens, we will all forget about this quickly. Alvarez would not be the first professional athlete to get off to a rocky start with contract issues, only to go on to have a very successful career. Just give things some time to play out. Hopefully, the result will be a favorable one.