FILE - In this Sept. 24, 2015, file photo, Pittsburgh Pirates' Pedro Alvarez watches his three-run home run off Colorado Rockies relief pitcher Jairo Diaz during the eighth inning of a baseball game in Denver. The club declined to offer a 2016 contract to
David Zalubowski, File
December 02, 2015

PITTSBURGH (AP) Pedro Alvarez's time with the Pittsburgh Pirates is over.

The club declined to offer a 2016 contract to the first baseman on Wednesday, making the slugger a free agent.

The former first-round pick led Pittsburgh with 27 homers in 2015 but struggled defensively after making the transition from third base to first. Alvarez's 23 errors led the team.

The 28-year-old made $5.75 million last season and likely was due a significant raise in arbitration. The Pirates acquired first baseman Michael Morse from the Los Angeles Dodgers at the trade deadline in July.

Alvarez was an important part of Pittsburgh's rise to contention. He was an All-Star in 2013 when his 36 homers tied for the National League lead as the Pirates made the postseason for the first time in 21 years. His defense at third eroded in 2014 and he eventually lost the starting job to Josh Harrison.

The club moved Alvarez over to first base full-time in spring training this year but he had difficulty adjusting to the position and was used in a platoon during the second half of the season as the Pirates earned a wild-card berth for the third consecutive year.

''Pedro Alvarez grew up as a Pirate and he and his wife Keli were active members of our organization and our community for the seven seasons that Pedro was with us,'' president Frank Coonelly said in a statement. ''Pedro also made major contributions to the success that we have had over the last several years. We thank him for his contributions and wish he, Keli and his young daughter all the best as Pedro continues his baseball career.''

Pittsburgh also declined to offer a 2016 contract to reserve outfielder Jaff Decker. The Pirates did make offers to the remaining players on the 40-man roster who were up for renewal, including All-Star closer Mark Melancon and second baseman Neil Walker, both of whom are entering their final year of arbitration and expected to command a sizable bump in salary.

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