OF Anthony Alford elects free agency

MLB Trade Rumors
MLB Trade Rumors
Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Anthony Alford Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Outfielder Anthony Alford has elected to become a free agent rather than accepting the Pirates’ outright assignment to Triple-A, John Dreker of the Pirates Prospects site reports (Twitter link). Pittsburgh designated Alford for assignment last week, and he cleared DFA waivers yesterday without being claimed.

Since this isn’t the first time Alford has been outrighted off a team’s 40-man roster, he had the option of deciding whether to accept the Pirates’ assignment, or entering the open market in search of another opportunity elsewhere. While it’s possible Alford could end up re-signing with the Bucs, his decision to test free agency likely ends his tenure in Pittsburgh after less than two years.

The Pirates acquired Alford via waiver claim in August 2020, taking him off the Blue Jays’ roster after Toronto had also designated the outfielder. The Jays made Alford a third-round pick in the 2012 draft, and he drew three years’ worth of top-100 prospect attention from multiple pundits as he continued to move up the ladder in the Toronto farm system. However, injuries also curtailed his progress, and ultimately limited Alford to only 46 Major League games in a Blue Jays uniform from 2017-20.

The outfielder got only slightly more of a look with the Pirates, playing 56 games and receiving 165 plate appearances in a Pittsburgh uniform over the last three seasons. Alford’s .235/.309/.423 slash line in that span was only slightly below (97 OPS+) league-average production, but it also wasn’t enough for the Pirates to keep him around ahead of younger players.

Now 27 years old, Alford will move on to see if the third time is the charm with his baseball career. Speculatively, the Braves could be a potential fit given how president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos was the Blue Jays’ GM when Toronto initially drafted Alford. Any number of other clubs could also be willing to take a flier on a former top prospect, and try to translate Alford’s obvious athletic ability into consistent success on the field.

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