As part of our wrap up of the 2017 Pirates season, we turn to everyone’s favorite topic: Payroll.
The Pirates’ payroll gets dissected like no other team in baseball. Whether you believe that Bob Nutting is holding back dollars to spend, or just that the small market atmosphere doesn’t provide enough, the end result is that their payroll is lower than most teams in the league, which makes it difficult to compete.
We keep track of the 40-man payroll each year, trying to figure out how much the team has to spend based on historic results. This year they finished with an estimated $99,338,487. A few disclaimers on that total:
1. So many of the salaries are unofficial, especially with the league minimum players who weren’t on the team on Opening Day. It also doesn’t include some unreported bonuses. For example, we included Ivan Nova’s $1 M bonus for making 30 starts. However, David Freese has $1 M in bonuses based on plate appearances. He had just over 500 plate appearances, so he most likely received a large amount of that bonus.
2. This year provided a new challenge. The Pirates received money from Antonio Bastardo in last year’s trade, and received money from the Phillies for Joaquin Benoit in this year’s trade. The totals are unknown, which means the payroll number would go down.
3. Up until last year we’ve been fairly close to the AP numbers. The numbers in 2015 were a bit of a bigger gap than before, due in part to money that exchanged hands in trades. Overall, I’d assume the totals here have a variance of a few million, until we get a more official number. Here are our totals the last five years versus the AP totals:
- 2016: $98,793,492 (Pirates Prospects) vs $109,671,516 (AP)
- 2015: $101,914,526 vs $95,889,960
- 2014: $81,394,476 vs $78,379,602
- 2013: $74,460,458 vs $74,608,266
- 2012: $59,465,742 vs $61,300,313
I’m guessing our $99,338,487 number is missing a few performance bonuses and other payments, which would push it above $100 M. At the same time, I’m guessing the money received from the Mets and Phillies for Bastardo and Benoit would push it back down to somewhere in the range of $95-98 M, depending on how much they received.
They did intend to spend more at the start of the season. These figures don’t include the $2.75 M they saved on Jung Ho Kang’s salary this year. They also don’t include the $2.2 M they saved on Starling Marte from his suspension. Jared Hughes is only credited with $694,672, instead of just over $2 M before he was released in Spring Training.
Without those three cuts, and with a stronger contender this year, they might have been close to last year’s AP figure, and realistically closer to $100 M when you factor in the money they received for Bastardo and Benoit. It’s hard to say that they spent that money elsewhere, as most of their spending was on typical in-season moves, and they traded away more salary than they added at the deadline with the Tony Watson deal. So if the Pirates are looking to spend that extra money from Marte, Kang, and Hughes, they haven’t done it yet.
Tomorrow I’ll be taking a first look at the 2018 payroll as we head into the offseason.