I discussed the payroll a bit in my last post and I just wanted to follow up briefly. My main point was that we should not focus so much on the total payroll, but more on individual expenditures. I have no problem whatsoever with a payroll under $40 million, mainly because there are not many available free agents that I prefer to our cheap internal options. Of course, if the Pirates were to lose someone like Andrew McCutchen down the road when there is room for him in the budget, you better believe I will be upset.
The Pirates unloaded several aging veterans in exchange for young talent over the past two years, and young teams are inexpensive by nature. The thing to remember is that “inexpensive” does not always equal “untalented.” Neal Huntington explains:
A lot has been made of our payroll. The best way to describe our payroll is that it’s a result, not a goal. Our payroll is the result of trading veteran players on the downsides of their prime who were making a lot of money and creating room for the young players we’ve acquired.
He also adds the following:
If we wanted to spend money for the sake of spending money, we could have spent it. And there was more money left to spend. But, as we looked at the dollars being allocated to other major league players as free agents vs. what we had internally, we decided it was a better use of our resources to give those at-bats and innings to players who are going to be here for multiple years.
Remember that veterans acquired through free agency are not automatically more productive than young, unproven players.