Pirates Projected Arbitration Salaries

In my projection of the 40-man roster I’ve included estimates for each of the arbitration eligible players, in order to try and get the estimated 2012 payroll.  My method for estimating salaries is simple.  I’ll look at the numbers that the players put up, look at comparable players, and go with the salaries for those players.  For example, Joel Hanrahan compares very closely to Heath Bell.  So in my projection I looked at Bell’s payment in year two of arbitration eligibility ($4 M) and applied the same amount to Hanrahan, who is also in year two of arbitration eligibility.

MLB Trade Rumors and Matt Swartz have come up with a method to project arbitration salaries that is far more advanced than my simple approach.  Their method can be explained here, here, and here.  They have released all of the estimates for the 2012 season, which can be found here.  Let’s take a look at the difference between my original estimates, and what their system projects.

Joel Hanrahan – I had Hanrahan at $4 M.  MLBTR also has him at $4 M, so there is no change.

Jeff Karstens – I had Karstens at $3 M.  MLBTR has him at $2.8 M, so my projection was high by $200 K.

Garrett Jones – I had Jones at $1.5 M.  MLBTR has him at $2.4 M.  My projection was low by $900 K.

Ross Ohlendorf – I didn’t have a projection here, as I put Ohlendorf as a non-tender candidate.  MLBTR projects $2.1 M.  I originally thought it would take $2.5-3 M.

Charlie Morton – I projected $1.7 M.  MLBTR projects $2.1 M.  My projection was low by $400 K.

Jose Veras – I have him as a non-tender candidate.  MLBTR projects $2.5 M.  I can’t really see the Pirates giving that amount, especially with all of the bullpen options they have.

Chris Resop – I projected $800 K.  MLBTR projected $1.1 M.  My projection was low by $300 K.  I could still see the Pirates keeping Resop, even with his $1.1 M salary.

Evan Meek – I projected $1 M.  MLBTR projects $900 K.  My projection was high by $100 K.

Jason Grilli – I projected $750 K.  MLBTR projects $800 K.  I was low by $50 K.

The estimated payroll with my projections was $28,134,500.  With MLBTR’s projections, the estimated payroll is at $29,484,500.  The difference isn’t huge, but does add a little over $1 M.  That number could jump $2.1 M if the Pirates feel that Ohlendorf should be retained.  The biggest difference between the old and new projections comes with Garrett Jones.  In their description of the system, home runs and RBIs earn a player more money than any other offensive stat.  So it makes sense that Jones would have a higher salary, since he’s hit 58 home runs over the last three years, along with 188 RBIs.  His OPS with the Pirates is .782, and he’s been in the .720-.750 range outside of his 2009 season.

I’d be surprised if the Pirates non-tendered him.  They knew he would be a Super Two player (he had 1.158 years of service time heading in to the 2011 season), and they had opportunities to deal him away (the Angels wanted him two years in a row).  $2.4 M isn’t bad for a bench option with power, who can back up first base and right field.

I added the MLBTR projections to the 40-man roster.  None of my tender/non-tender predictions changed.

Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.

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Jack Mcelligott

Like last year I think the Pirates will be aggressive in the few free agents that they like. Whether they land any is questionable. I think the trade options could be interesting. It might surprise what a Hanrahan or Tabata could fetch and I do think the Pirates will consider some deals. I am cautiously optimistic that the front office has the right approach, will not greatly overpay for free agents and will consider trades deemed to be in the clubs longterm best interest. You cannot keep all the young guys

Ron Leighton

I don’t want an Overbay either, but they should work on improving the team and get players who are not expected to just perform for 1 season (which would be stopgap).

If the Bucs think the youngster can come through then they should go with them.  But if they don’t expect them to be more than marginal players or utility types (like Paul and probably FortO then they need to find better players.  werth’s contract is bad for a team on a budget.  The Nats may end up being like the Yankees or another big spending team. The Bucs operate like their is a $50 million cap when most other teams look at 80 to even $100 million as being reasonable amounts.

Ron Leighton

I have trouble seeing them paying $2 million for a reliever too.  But with payroll so low they choose to do that this year.

I live in Nats territory and their projected payroll right now is $62 million and they say they can go higher.

I do believe the Bucs are shooting themselves in the foot in they don’t bring in enough established players to have a payroll over $50 million and a team that has a chance to finish at 500 or above. A serious effort should be made to maintain the interest in the team that created by the unexpected good first 100 games of the 2011 season.

Sean Fogle

The Nats have the richest owners in Baseball right now though.


And a GM who came from the D-Backs when they liked to spend.  I won’t be surprised if they end up with Reyes or Fielder.

They agreed to terms with Wang which means they will have some young starters who may be available.  Detwiler who has been little better than Moskos, is out of options.  He’s a former first rounder.  He was hitting 94 on the stadium guns in September.


Hanrahan is the only reliever who should be getting more than $2M.

I disagree.  This season is absolutely when they should see what they have internally.  I’m tired of seeing Overbay, Correia and the like come here for a pay day.

The Nationals are rumored to be interested in Reyes, Wilson and Fielder.  Werth was a terrible contract but it shows they are willing to spend.  If they sign Wilson or another starting pitcher, the Pirates should look to pick off one of their blocked pitchers.


I’ll be surpised if Veras is non-tendered.  Not “Nutting is Cheap!!” surprised, just in the fact that he has a live arm and could be a decent candidate to close IF Hanrahan is dealt this coming season.

I’m more than a little concerned about Meek just being pencilled in as a key member of the bullpen in 2012.


I totally agree, I think Veras is a far better keep than Meek


I agree with you about Meek.  Every time he stepped on the mound this year I didn’t have that sure feeling that he would get his three outs.  I think he should prove his injury is healed and he can/has returned to his 2010 form.


Meek’s seasons are hard to figure out because he was only good when he good go 95-96 with his fastball and control it. He has had arm trouble and is no where near where he was. Sometimes these types learn how to pitch when they loose their fastball, that is what I think the Pirates would be counting on if they keep him.


I agree, if they keep Veras that puts the bullpen payroll at close to $10M with two (I’m counting Grilli or a similar pitcher) slots to fill.  Even with minimum salary pitchers, that puts the pen payroll at $11M.  That’s highly inefficient spending for a team in the Pirates position.

Veras himself is an example how relievers are inconsistent and easily obtained.  Veras had a decent year but it was outside the norm for his career.  Veras was signed for nothing.  There are always guys like him available every year.  There is no need to overpay for him.

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