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Boras 'open' to long-term Alvarez deal with Pirates

| Friday, May 31, 2013, 9:09 p.m.

If the Pirates are willing to discuss a multiyear contract extension for third baseman Pedro Alvarez, agent Scott Boras is willing to listen.

Management has not yet approached Alvarez about a new deal. However, there are indications the club wants to open talks this offseason, when Alvarez likely will enter his first year of salary arbitration eligibility.

“We're open to the idea,” Boras said Friday. “I let the player make those decisions. We'll listen to everything, then determine if it's beneficial to Pedro's interests.”

Team president Frank Coonelly echoed Boras' stance.

“Open minds often lead to common ground and, ultimately, to agreement,” Coonelly said. “We also have an open mind on these issues and will continue to evaluate seriously the merits of a long-term agreement with Pedro, just like we do with all of our young players.”

Alvarez was not available for comment. He was scratched from the lineup Friday due to continued pain from having two wisdom teeth extracted Thursday.

Alvarez's current contract includes a $700,000 team option for 2014. However, he can void that option if he has enough major league service time to be arbitration eligible.

“We fully expect Pedro will be arbitration eligible at the end of this year,” Coonelly said.

If the option is voided, the Pirates still will have Alvarez under their control through the 2016 season. After that, he can become a free agent.

“We are proponents of multiyear deals for our core players,” Coonelly said. “For us, buying out free-agent years is very important. To do otherwise doesn't make much sense.”

In March 2012, the Pirates signed All-Star center fielder Andrew McCutchen to a six-year, $51.5 million contract. The deal bought out all of McCutchen's arbitration years and at least his first two years of free agency.

“It's got to be the right time, the right player and the right circumstance,” Coonelly said. “And, obviously, the player has to have a desire to reach a multiyear contract.”

In 2011, the Pirates approached second baseman Neil Walker about a long-term deal, but those talks broke down. This spring, Walker signed a $3.3 million contract for 2013 and has three years of arbitration eligibility left.

Alvarez, 26, was the second overall draft pick in 2008. He played his first full season in the majors last year and batted .244 with 30 home runs and 85 RBI.

It's difficult to predict how much money Alvarez might get in 2014 if he goes through arbitration.

This spring, St. Louis Cardinals third baseman David Freese signed a one-year, $3.15 million contract to avoid his first year of arbitration. Freese's 2012 stats (.293 average, 20 HR, 79 RBI) were comparable to Alvarez's.

“People always ask me about the rarity of power at third base,” Boras said. “Teams that have a player with the combination of 20 to 30 (home run) power and quality defense at third base are the teams that are usually in the playoffs.

“It would be a very wise business move for the Pirates to continue their relationship with Pedro. There are 29 other major league teams that would want to do the same thing. He's gotten better every year — and his best years are yet to come. Part of our evaluation (of any offer) will be about where he is going in his career and what is fair.”

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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