The long, strange tenure of Yadier Alvarez in the Dodgers’ organization reached another disappointing milestone on Saturday as he was designated for assignment.
Signed for $16 million back in July 2015 when he was just 19 years old, here’s an idea of what Alvarez cost the Dodgers at the time.
Alvarez debuted in June 2016 for the Dodgers’ Arizona League team and then for Great Lakes, finishing with a 2.12 ERA in 59 1/3 innings at the lower levels. After another two steps up the organization to Rancho Cucamonga and Tulsa, the ERA rose to 4.68 in 92 1/3 innings in 2017.
Those results sent Alvarez down the prospect rankings. He had debuted inside the top 30 (Baseball America) and top 25 (Baseball Prospectus) ahead of the 2017 season, ranking as the Dodgers’ top prospect or No. 2 prospect (behind Cody Bellinger). Baseball Prospectus kept him at No. 41 going into 2018, and third for the Dodgers behind Walker Buehler and Alex Verdugo.
However, 48 1/3 innings for Tulsa in 2018 led to a 4.66 ERA with 43 walks to 52 strikeouts. Of the 17 appearances, just eight were starts for Alvarez as the Dodgers temporarily shifted him to the bullpen after a two-month break from Tulsa back in the AZL. September 2018 is when things took the next step south as Alvarez left the Drillers following a disagreement with the team’s management. Two April appearances for Tulsa in 2019 resulted in six runs allowed in 3 2/3 innings, and this past September he was placed on the restricted list for too many unexcused absences and removed from the 40-man roster.
That brings us back to the present where just 10 days ago Alvarez spoke to reporters about the help he had received to try to improve.
Unfortunately, Alvarez was scratched from Friday’s appearance when he “couldn’t get loose”, according to Ken Gurnick, who followed that up this morning with the news from Dave Roberts that “Alvarez is shut down, getting tests done to determine why he couldn’t pitch yesterday.”
The DFA news came just two hours later. The Dodgers said at the start of camp that they would decide if Alvarez would be activated at the end of a 30-day period. After Friday, it appears the full 30 wasn’t needed. For what specific reason, we do not know.
(Update: It doesn’t sound great.)
A team claiming Alvarez would seem to be unlikely, so this doesn’t exactly mean he is done with the organization. The Dodgers did something similar with Erisbel Arruebarrena, another high-priced Cuban signing, back in 2014 and he remained in the organization (though his situation also did not get any better from that point), but Alvarez is still just going to be 24 years old in a week.