Alvarez wins Bucs' final arb case of offseason

Alvarez wins Bucs' final arb case of offseason

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Arbitrators who on Wednesday heard the Pirates and Pedro Alvarez present cases for his 2015 salary ruled on Thursday afternoon in favor of the player.

Alvarez's salary is set at $5.75 million, rather than the $5.25 million he had been offered by the club. The infielder earned $4.25 million last season, after which he became a second-time arbitration-eligible player. Alvarez's contract nudged the Bucs' 2015 payroll to $81,437,500, eclipsing the $78.4 million at the end of the 2014 season.

The arguments on behalf of Alvarez had to be compelling, since arbitration is a comparative process wherein decisions are determined by comparing a player's salary to others at his position. Alvarez challenges that paradigm, as the 2013 All-Star third baseman projects as the Bucs' regular first baseman for the 2015 season.

Despite losing his third-base spot due to fielding issues in 2014 and an extended "time out" to cram on the basics of playing first base, Alvarez still ranked third on the Pirates with 18 home runs in 398 at-bats. His season was curtailed by a stress reaction in his left foot on Aug. 26.

Alvarez's case was the Pirates' third and final of the spring, after the club's earlier verdict over second baseman Neil Walker and loss to pitcher Vance Worley. The three cases set the Bucs' all-time record in salary arbitration hearings at 11-12.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.