Alvarez only pitched in two games last season, the last on April 11 for Double-A Tulsa, but then left the team. Alvarez explained to reporters last week, saying, “I didn’t feel like I wanted to play baseball anymore,” per Jorge Castillo of the LA Times.
The Dodgers placed Alvarez on the restricted list near the end of last season, and had 30 days to decide his fate after he reported to spring training this February. He was set to make his Cactus League debut on Friday against the Brewers in what would have been his first game in nearly 11 months, but was a late scratch with a reported shoulder injury.
It’s unknown when Alvarez might pitch again given his injury, but minor league spring training games begin on March 13.
Alvarez was designated for assignment on Saturday, with not much room for him on a crowded and competitive 40-man roster. There are 22 pitchers on said roster right now for the Dodgers, and removing the five projected opening day starters leaves 17. Five more relievers — Kenley Jansen, Blake Treinen, Pedro Baez, Joe Kelly, Jimmy Nelson — have at least five years of major league service time and can’t be sent down without their approval; they also happen to be bullpen (or injured list) locks, so we’re down to 12 remaining pitchers on the 40-man roster.
All of those 12 pitchers have had some modicum of success on a professional mound in the last year, and nine of them pitched in the majors in that time. Plus, all 12 have minor league options, giving the Dodgers one of their most functionally deep rosters in some time. There just wasn’t any room for Alvarez, for now.
The $32 million investment in Alvarez — his $16 million bonus in July 2015, plus the $16 million tax for exceeding the international spending bonus limit back when that was even an option — is noteworthy, but has little to do with his status now. That money has long been spent.
Alvarez can still earn his way back up the ladder. He has good stuff, and was diligently working on fixing his mechanics earlier in spring, per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. He just needs to show it on the mound. It’s telling how far his stock has fallen, after he was a consensus top-50 prospect in baseball just three years ago. Now, turning 24 this week, he could have been claimed by any major league team, but wasn’t.
Now begins the long road back.