Non-tender deadline looms large for Pittsburgh Pirates

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Sep 13, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Pedro Alvarez (24) celebrates the dugout after hitting a solo home run against the Milwaukee Brewers during the second inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pedro Alvarez had 27 home runs – many of the solo variety – and led the league in errors at 1B by a wide margin. Like Walker, Alvarez has been actively shopped. The Pirates never found a taker for the slugger, and now are left with a choice to make.

With Michael Morse as the only other first baseman on the 40-man roster with MLB experience, will the team decline to tender an offer to Alvarez?

It’s tough to answer that, because the debate has become a purely philosophical one at this point. Pundits and fans alike are in agreement that Alvarez’s future is not in Pittsburgh, so the argument becomes how the departure should be handled. Are the Pirates prepared to not tender Alvarez a contract, and let him walk away without any compensation?

Do they take the first deal – any deal really – that has an inkling of upside for club now or in the future?

It’s hard to imagine trading a hitter capable of 30+ home runs for a bullpen arm and a prospect, or even less. But Alvarez’s struggle to learn the position after a full season may force Huntington’s hand.

If the team has no choice but to not offer Pedro a contract, it can be seen as a failure on many levels by many different parties. To be sure, Alvarez did not take to the position and for that he should be held accountable, but Huntington is also to blame here. It’s easy with hindsight, but it’s easy to wonder if the team waited too long to seriously put Alvarez on the market. It’s clear that his absolute struggle in the field has drastically dropped his trade value – by 50% to be exact, as National League teams are almost entirely off of the table – and the continued mistrust of Alvarez against LHP doesn’t help.

It doesn’t get any easier when we next consider the best reliever in the National League last year.

Next: Free-reign Shark?