The problem has become annual. Every season someone reports that the Dodgers’ prospect, the one the team spent $16 million to sign, has behavioral issues. It has become frustrating to now end. The Dodgers invested and the players, Yadier Alvarez, is yet to invest in the process and quite frankly, in himself.
Last year it was a matter of pitching in the playoffs. The Tulsa Drillers, the Dodgers’ Double-A team, were well set up to make another deep run into the postseason and Alvarez wanted to start game one. He did not want to start because of the team, he did not want to win with the team but, rather, he wanted to take the mound for himself. Alvarez has always catered to his own needs. He pitches when he wants to he takes trips back to Cuba, he native country when he feels he needs to and as was the case in 2018, he refused to pitch when he does not get what he wants. Alvarez has always been that way.
Now, none of this is to say that he has no talent. When you can throw over 100 miles per hour with your fastball and follow that up with a plus-plus slider, life will go your way. His skill has never come into question. But, what has raised brows and caused internal turmoil is the attitude, the attitude that serves as the basis for the argument at hand: Yadier Alvarez should not be added to the Dodgers 40-man roster.
The Rule-5 draft is the culprit should it happen. Every season, players who have been in the minor leagues for a certain amount of time become eligible for a draft in which other teams can take out of your original franchise’s system. The players chosen in this draft are required to reach the major leagues by the upcoming Opening Day and should they ever get sent down they are returned to the original club. Alvarez is eligible.
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Now, the Dodgers could look at this one of two way: on one hand, you have a player with potential worth keeping around. His stuff is good and his stalk could eventually grow enough to trade him. As fans saw with Yasiel Puig, just waiting out the attitude could end in improvement and maturity. But that would require a 40-man roster spot. To protect a player from this draft, the team must make room on their rosters and add the minor leaguers to it. Ross Stripling was protected from this draft and the Dodgers benefitted from it.
However, the case is different for Yadier Alvarez. Could the Dodgers protect him? Sure they could. Save face and avoid admitting defeat by protecting your most expensive international free agent since Hector Olivera (another big bruise but not the point here).
Or, instead of padding the front office’s ego in bubble wrap let’s have a sip of reality. Alvarez has not worked out. His 8.01 walks per nine innings, 4.23 ERA in 2018, .285 BABIP and a whole lot more statistics are not screaming major league talent.
Thus, the Dodgers have a real decision to make. The likelihood of Alvarez being added elsewhere, with issues on and off the field, feels slim. Teams would be taking on a multi-layered project in Alvarez that, quite frankly, would not make any sense on a major league roster.
If the Dodgers do choose to leave him off the roster, a player who is fully invested in this team would be here for just a little longer and remain on the 40-man roster. If the Dodgers do lose Alvarez, my guess would be that the 22-year old would be back in the Dodgers’ organization quickly as he is far from Major League-ready.
Alvarez had the talent. He was brought to this country to be excellent but he has not done that on the field or off it. The Dodgers have a 40-man roster filled with great players and until Alvarez proves with certainty that he is one of those guys, the Dodgers have no need to add him with hopes of protecting him from other teams.