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(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Half of this may be very popular, and the other half may not be. Pedro Alvarez and Neil Walker should be, and likely are, playing their last few months in Pirate uniforms. Alvarez has been a polarizing figure in Pittsburgh since his debut. Neil Walker, on the other hand, is a fan favorite. He’s the hometown kid who has seemingly always been overlooked by this front office. Neither of them should be Pirates in 2016.

Let’s just get this out of the way now. Pedro Alvarez is the worst defensive first baseman in baseball. He’s the only option they have right now, however, and he’s actually having one of the best seasons of his career at the plate. The Pirates were reportedly looking to move Pedro at the deadline this year but apparently couldn’t find the right deal. Alvarez could be a valuable contributor for a team that doesn’t play real baseball in the American League, which is likely where he’ll end up following this season.

The Pirates have a prospect banging on the door to take over first base in Josh Bell. Originally an outfielder, Bell has had some expected growing pains in the field, but there are reports that he has been much better in the field lately and he continues to hit since his promotion to AAA. Bell probably could be ready to take over at first base on opening day of 2016, but that isn’t a Neal Huntington-like move. They will likely wait until the super two deadline passes which might make the first few months difficult over at first base. The Pirates have a plethora of average options that can get them to June. Michael Morse has been a very good major leaguer throughout his career. He posted an OPS above .790 four times since 2010. Aside from an injury-riddled 2013 and this year, he’s been a very productive hitter. Morse is more than capable to hold down first base until Josh Bell arrives.

Another option that the Pirates have at first base, although unlikely, is to move Neil Walker over. The more likely scenario will be to try to trade Walker in the offseason. Walker is making $8M through arbitration this year and he has one more year of eligibility. The Pirates and Walker haven’t been able to come to an agreement on an extension, and at this point it seems unlikely. It doesn’t seem like the Pirates will be willing to pay a declining Walker $9-10M in 2016.

Walker has a history of back problems and will be entering his age-30 season. His range at second base has gotten much worse and he has played more than 140 games just once in his career. Walker has been close to his career numbers at the plate this season, excluding last year which saw a surge in power. Another thing working against Walker is that the Pirates seem to see him as a platoon player. Walker has a slash line of .240/.284/.293 this season against left-handed pitching. Neal Huntington would be smart to not overpay for an aging player with back issues, especially with all of the options they have in the infield.

The emergence of Jung-Ho Kang has made Walker expendable. Josh Harrison signed an extension earlier in the year and can play second base next season while Kang plays third. Like the situation at first base, the Pirates have a prospect who will be ready for the majors. Alen Hanson, a second baseman in AAA, can play second if the Pirates don’t trust Jordy Mercer and believe in Kang’s ability to stick to shortstop.

There are plenty of options available to the Pirates. They won’t be playing Michael Martinez or Brent Morel every day with a loss of Walker or Alvarez. Their other options are much more cost efficient and productive to the future. Enjoy these next few months with Neil Walker, and maybe a little less with Pedro Alvarez, because they might be the last ones in Pittsburgh.

Half of this may be very popular, and the other half may not be. Pedro Alvarez and Neil Walker should be, and likely are, playing their last few months in Pirate uniforms. Alvarez has been a polarizing figure in Pittsburgh since his debut. Neil Walker, on the other hand, is a fan favorite. He’s the hometown kid who has seemingly always been overlooked by this front office. Neither of them should be Pirates in 2016.

Let’s just get this out of the way now. Pedro Alvarez is the worst defensive first baseman in baseball. He’s the only option they have right now, however, and he’s actually having one of the best seasons of his career at the plate. The Pirates were reportedly looking to move Pedro at the deadline this year but apparently couldn’t find the right deal. Alvarez could be a valuable contributor for a team that doesn’t play real baseball in the American League, which is likely where he’ll end up following this season.

The Pirates have a prospect banging on the door to take over first base in Josh Bell. Originally an outfielder, Bell has had some expected growing pains in the field, but there are reports that he has been much better in the field lately and he continues to hit since his promotion to AAA. Bell probably could be ready to take over at first base on opening day of 2016, but that isn’t a Neal Huntington-like move. They will likely wait until the super two deadline passes which might make the first few months difficult over at first base. The Pirates have a plethora of average options that can get them to June. Michael Morse has been a very good major leaguer throughout his career. He posted an OPS above .790 four times since 2010. Aside from an injury-riddled 2013 and this year, he’s been a very productive hitter. Morse is more than capable to hold down first base until Josh Bell arrives.

Another option that the Pirates have at first base, although unlikely, is to move Neil Walker over. The more likely scenario will be to try to trade Walker in the offseason. Walker is making $8M through arbitration this year and he has one more year of eligibility. The Pirates and Walker haven’t been able to come to an agreement on an extension, and at this point it seems unlikely. It doesn’t seem like the Pirates will be willing to pay a declining Walker $9-10M in 2016.

Walker has a history of back problems and will be entering his age-30 season. His range at second base has gotten much worse and he has played more than 140 games just once in his career. Walker has been close to his career numbers at the plate this season, excluding last year which saw a surge in power. Another thing working against Walker is that the Pirates seem to see him as a platoon player. Walker has a slash line of .240/.284/.293 this season against left-handed pitching. Neal Huntington would be smart to not overpay for an aging player with back issues, especially with all of the options they have in the infield.

The emergence of Jung-Ho Kang has made Walker expendable. Josh Harrison signed an extension earlier in the year and can play second base next season while Kang plays third. Like the situation at first base, the Pirates have a prospect who will be ready for the majors. Alen Hanson, a second baseman in AAA, can play second if the Pirates don’t trust Jordy Mercer and believe in Kang’s ability to stick to shortstop.

There are plenty of options available to the Pirates. They won’t be playing Michael Martinez or Brent Morel every day with a loss of Walker or Alvarez. Their other options are much more cost efficient and productive to the future. Enjoy these next few months with Neil Walker, and maybe a little less with Pedro Alvarez, because they might be the last ones in Pittsburgh.

Tyler Sweeney, SCB Pirate Blogger

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