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updated: 8/11/2014 11:03 PM

Pirates' Alvarez could be mystery man for White Sox

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  • Could it be the White Sox are targeting Pirates power-hitting third baseman Pedro Alvarez to replace Adam Dunn in the lineup next season?

      Could it be the White Sox are targeting Pirates power-hitting third baseman Pedro Alvarez to replace Adam Dunn in the lineup next season?
    Associated Press

 
 

On Aug. 1, the day after the nonwaiver trade deadline, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said he was close on a deal that fell apart at the last minute.

Here is what we know about the trade:

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• It was a three-team proposal.

• It would have netted the Sox a younger player who fits in with the current core of Jose Abreu, Chris Sale, Adam Eaton, Avisail Garcia and Jose Quintana.

• While no deal was reached, Hahn did say groundwork was laid and the trade could be revisited this month or in the off-season.

Here is what we suspect:

• Looking ahead to next year's White Sox roster, there are plenty of holes that need to be filled.

Adam Dunn's four-year contract is up at the end of the season, and that should be cause for celebration given his disappointing run on the South Side.

But Dunn is a left-handed power bat, and they are not easy to find.

The guess here is Hahn identified Dunn's replacement in July and will continue the pursuit this winter.

• The replacement is Pittsburgh's Pedro Alvarez.

Hahn scoffed at all of the inaccurate rumors leading up to the trade deadline, and Alvarez to the Sox could be fiction.

But if you take a closer look, it makes sense.

First, Alvarez reportedly was available at the deadline, and his name was floated in a three-way trade.

Interesting, considering the 27-year-old third baseman led the National League with 36 homers last season while driving in 100 runs.

And interesting, considering Alvarez was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2008 draft.

So why would the Pirates even consider moving such a productive hitter?

While he did have a breakout season in 2013, Alvarez had a low batting average (.233) and on-base percentage (.296), and he led the National League with 186 strikeouts.

Let's be honest, those numbers look an awful lot like Dunn's.

This season Alvarez has a .232/.318/.398 hitting line to go with 15 home runs, 49 RBI and 97 strikeouts in 357 at-bats.

Dunn's numbers this year -- .220/.346/424 with 17 homers, 44 RBI and 117 strikeouts in 323 at-bats.

Again, very similar.

So, why would the White Sox have an interest in Alvarez?

This is just his third full major-league season, and the 6-foot-3, 235-pounder has plenty of room for improvement as he nears his prime.

Say what you want about the low batting average and OBP -- along with the high strikeout total -- but don't dismiss Alvarez' combined 66 home runs and 185 RBI in 2012-13.

So, why would the Pirates trade Alvarez, who is arbitration eligible for two more years?

Simply put, Pittsburgh plays in the NL, and Alvarez is a classic American League designated hitter.

Alvarez wasn't in the Pirates' starting lineup Monday night against Detroit because he is no longer playing third base after making 23 throwing errors in 105 games.

He is trying to learn first base on the fly, but Alvarez is best suited at DH.

So, what is the price tag for the Sox on a potential trade?

Pittsburgh desperately needs a quality starter, and the White Sox have Jose Quintana.

That is a high price to pay, but the White Sox have two other left-handers in their rotation, Sale and John Danks, and Carlos Rodon is likely to be ready at some point next season.

Quintana is a tough-luck pitcher if there ever was one, but he is a legitimate No. 2 or 3 starter and would fit in very well with the Pirates.

The same holds true with the Sox and Alvarez. If you put his big bat in the cleanup spot between Abreu and Garcia, you're looking at some serious thunder in the middle of the lineup.

sgregor@dailyherald.com

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