The Pittsburgh Pirates today exercised the $700,000 option for third baseman Pedro Alvarez for the 2013 season, while declining catcher Rod Barajasâ€™ $3.5 M option (no buyout) for next year.
Alvarezâ€™s $700,000 option was expected, as it was a part of his original contract when drafted by Pittsburgh in the first round of 2008. Alvarez blasted a career-high 30 home runs during the 2012 season, surpassing his previous mark of 16 set his rookie season in 2010. The 25-year-old third baseman finished with a .244 average.
Barajasâ€™ hit a career-low .206 average with the Pirates, with 11 home runs over 104 games.Â His 98 starts behind the plate were the most since 2009 with Toronto when he caught 110. Barajasâ€™ threw out just 5% of base runners this season (4-of-80). But while his offense struggled for most of the season (he hit .302 in May), the pitching staff including A.J. Burnett, who was his battery mate for the season, along with James McDonald and several other young arms, spokeÂ highlyÂ about Barajasâ€™ game calling and leadership skills behind the plate.
Barajasâ€™ $3.5 M option for the 2013 season was declined by Pittsburgh, but the veteran catcher could still return to the Pirates for next year at a lower price and as the clubâ€™s No. 2 behind the plate. Manager Clint Hurdle said during the final homestand at PNC Park in October that he had a candid conversation with Barajas about that role.
The club also released reliever Hisanori Takahashi, who was set to become a free agent at the end of the week.