SB Nation's Chris Cotillo reports that the Oakland Athletics are "in agreement" with right-handed starting pitcher Henderson Alvarez. Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports and Cotillo have the details on the deal, which has not yet been officially confirmed:
Source: A's deal with Henderson Alvarez should be done soon. Going to be for one year, $4M+, big incentives. @jonheymancbs had them close.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 18, 2015
Source: Alvarez gets 1-year, $4M base from Oakland. $1.6M more available in incentives based on GS.— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) December 18, 2015
To clarify, Alvarez guarantee is precisely $4.25M. $1.6M in available incentives pushes max value to $5.85M. #Athletics— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) December 18, 2015
Alvarez was non-tendered by the Marlins after he was projected to earn $4 million under the MLB Trade Rumors model. Because he only has 4+ years of service time, the A's control his rights through the 2017 season, his final arbitration year. Cotillo confirms that the A's have not waived that team control, which effectively serves as a club option for a second year.
Assuming this is a major league deal, the A's will have to clear a 40-man roster spot for Alvarez. While Alvarez will probably start the season on the disabled list, players cannot be placed on the 60-day disabled list until the start of spring training, and it's not clear if he will need that much time to enter the A's rotation. Payroll will stand at around $81 million with the signing.
Alvarez, turning 26 next April, is recovering from season-ending shoulder surgery. Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reported in November on the timeline for Alvarez's recovery:
Coming off shoulder surgery, Marlins SP Henderson Alvarez expected to start throwing Dec. 1. Plan has him on pace for April return to games.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 5, 2015
Before the injury, Alvarez had made 92 career starts between the Toronto Blue Jays and Miami Marlins with a 3.80 ERA (105 ERA+), though 2014 was a breakout year for him. In 2014, Alvarez was an NL All-Star, striking out 111 and walking 33 while throwing three shutouts on his way to a 2.65 ERA in 187 innings.
Alvarez does not own the gaudy strikeout numbers one would expect from the mid-90s fastball Alvarez owned before apparently pitching through shoulder trouble in 2015. A big question is whether the ground balls Alvarez generated in his All-Star campaign are a repeatable skill. Chris Cwik, writing for FanGraphs at the end of 2014, thinks Alvarez would at the last "settle in as a Buehrle-type moving forward."
Jeff Sullivan made note of another interesting aspect of Alvarez's repertoire before 2015, he is specifically modeling his changeup like Felix Hernandez's, one with not that much difference in velocity from his fastball but with a lot of movement. He's not there yet, because Felix Hernandez is a ridiculous pitcher, but Alvarez still has time to learn new tricks.
UPDATE 3:49 PM PT: Alvarez has confirmed the signing on his official Instagram account. Henderson Alvarez wears no. 37, but so did R.J. Alvarez last year. Weird.