The fact that a small-market team like the Pirates chose not to retain a slugger with 111 homers over the last four seasons for that salary — or didn't find a suitable deal before deciding to not tender him a contract — speaks to the level of concern about Alvarez's defense. In his first full season at first base last season, he had an MLB-high 23 errors and was last in Defensive Runs saved among those at his position, behind Ryan Howard.
But Alvarez's agent, Scott Boras, isn't conceding a future for his client as a full-time designated hitter. Rather, in his recent discussions with some of the interested teams, he's made a case that Pittsburgh's aggressive use of positioning worked against Alvarez, who will turn 29 next Saturday. In Boras' view, Alvarez would've been more comfortable had he been a couple of steps closer to the first base bag, and he notes that before the 2015 season, Alvarez's errors typically came with throws, and not in handling ground balls or throws. Last year, a lot of Alvarez's errors came while he was receiving the ball, including a handful of pick-off attempts when pitcher Gerrit Cole broke Alvarez's glove — like here.
So Boras has been making the case that there is reason to expect improvement in Alvarez's defense, and if that happens, Alvarez could turn out to be a nice low-risk, high-ceiling investment for some team. Boras has been in conversation with more than half a dozen teams, but here are five clubs which, to me, have reason to take a serious look at Alvarez: