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First Pitch: Breaking Down the Pirates’ 2017 Payroll

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USA Today released their 2017 salary database, giving us a look at the league minimum salaries for the rest of the players on the active roster. That is always the final thing needed for the 2017 40-man payroll page. I’ve updated the payroll page with the new numbers, and the Pirates will be entering the season with an estimated payroll of $98.9 M, although that comes with a few disclaimers. Click the 40-man link to view the details. Here are some notes, and those disclaimers:

**Jung Ho Kang is currently on the restricted list. That means his contract wouldn’t be paid for as long as he is on that list. This could mean a reduction of as much as $2.75 M from the payroll if he misses the entire season.

**Jared Hughes received 45 days of termination pay for being released. That put his salary at $694,672. Prior to this move, the payroll was projected around $101 M.

**I’m not sure how much the Pirates are receiving from the Mets for Antonio Bastardo. That amount would drop the payroll, obviously.

And now, here are the usual notes:

**The payroll doesn’t account for in-season moves. The Pirates have averaged about $8 M in additional payroll during the season in most years, whether that comes from calling up new guys throughout the year, claiming players off waivers, or adding players via trade. This doesn’t mean that will happen every year. They cut salary last year with their trades of Mark Melancon and the ever popular Francisco Liriano trade. But most years you can expect them to add another $8-10 M from the Opening Day figure.

**The Opening Day payroll doesn’t include projected bonuses. I add those throughout the year when they’re reached.

**I use the 40-man payroll, rather than the 25-man. MLB teams use 40-man numbers, and when you see the official numbers come out at the end of the year, they’re always 40-man numbers. You might think that the minor league salaries drive up the payroll (or at least that’s the common argument). The total of all the minor league guys on the 40-man is $951,500. As the season goes on, a lot of those minor leaguers will be called up, at which point they’ll be making major league salaries. I always pro-rate the major league salaries when players don’t play a full season.

**The payroll page is updated whenever a move is made. It also keeps track of option years, service time and contract situations. Keep the page bookmarked throughout the year, or find it under the “Rosters” tab at the top of the page. If you want to see long-term contract information, check out the Future Payroll page.

One thing to consider here is that the Pirates will be spending a lot on the amateur side this year. Between the draft and international budgets, they have up to about $15.4 M to spend. That’s a massive increase over what they spent this past year, which was estimated around $8.4 M. By our estimates, they finished with a payroll just under $99 M last year, which is about where they are now, minus Kang and Bastardo situations. So they’re spending more money this year, but putting more toward the amateur side.

It will be interesting to see how that increased budget will impact their ability to add and spend at the MLB level this year. They have added payroll during the season in the past, and they have spent big on the amateur side in the past, but this will be the first time that they’re contenders while also being able to spend a big amateur budget. Bob Nutting discussed how important the amateur spending was to them during Spring Training, but wasn’t clear on how that would impact the team.

I’d say that this team has more money to spend, but I’m just not sure how much that would be, especially if they plan on spending up to the budget on the amateur side of things. I don’t know if they’d be able to add $10 M in season like in years past, or if they’d have less room for expansion of the payroll. Time will only tell on that one. For now, they remain in the $100 M neighborhood, with a lot more this year looking to go toward the amateur side.

**Pirates Loss Shows How Important Cole and McCutchen Are to the 2017 Season. A recap of the Opening Day loss, along with some thoughts on Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen.

**2017 Pittsburgh Pirates Season Preview: The Disappointment of a Wild Card Ceiling. I think the Pirates are contenders for a Wild Card, and a good team. Unfortunately, the Cubs prevent any fair assessment for this club.

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Tim Williams
Tim Williams
Tim is the owner, producer, editor, and lead writer of PiratesProspects.com. He has been running Pirates Prospects since 2009, becoming the first new media reporter and outlet covering the Pirates at the MLB level in 2011 and 2012. His work can also be found in Baseball America, where he has been a contributor since 2014 and the Pirates' correspondent since 2019.

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