Breaking Down the Pirates’ 2020 Opening Day Payroll

We finally made it. The season has started, and even though it won’t look the same, baseball—at least some—will be played in 2020.

With baseball comes the opportunity to talk about Pittsburgh Pirates’ fans’ favorite topic—payroll. Of course, it won’t look quite the same as it always has, as salaries will be prorated based on the 60-game season. It’s still worthwhile to track, so here goes nothing.

Listed below will be the full amounts based on a whole season, as well as the actual prorated amount that will be on the books for 2020. For a more in-depth, line-by-line breakdown, check out (and save) my payroll tracker that I’ll keep updated throughout the season.

Guaranteed Salaries: $63,713,000 / $23,597,408

This amount was already going to be slightly higher in 2020 with rosters expanding by one, but the shortened season really increased payroll totals. Two extra players will need paid major league salaries for two weeks, and two more for at least a month, at which point rosters will contract back to the expected 26.

As with last season, injury and illness inflated payroll, with seven players starting on the injured list. This figure is also kind of theoretical, as it includes five players—John Ryan Murphy, Phillip Evans, Jason Martin, Cole Tucker, and Nik Turley—who didn’t have salary information reported as of yet. I estimated reasonable amounts, but this shouldn’t be considered official until that information is available.

In total, this factors in one option pick up, two long-term contracts, four free agent contracts, four minor league free agents, eight arbitration deals, eighteen renewals, and one resigning.

Minor League Salary: $689,000 / $255,185

This is the total allocated for players not on the active roster, which with expanded rosters is smaller than usual, with just ten players accounting for the total. Two of them, however, are not on the Reserve List at the moment. Since both Pablo Reyes and Yacksel Ríos were tendered contracts at the December deadline, the Pirates were tied to their deals for the 2020 season. Payroll can’t be outrighted off the roster, even when a player is, so both are factored into the 2020 total. Reyes is serving a suspension this season and will be included again later, while Ríos is one of two members at the Alternate Training Site—Jameson Taillon kind of included—being paid on a Major League contract. Technically, Edgar Santana is not on the Reserve List either, but he still had a 40-man spot before his suspension, which is why he isn’t grouped with Reyes and Ríos.

The CBA calls for 2020 Minor League salaries to be calculated with a Cost of Living Adjustment, which came to $46,000 for first timers and $91,800 for subsequent contracts.

Signing Bonuses: $1,100,000 / $1,100,000

I wasn’t totally sure how to treat these next two categories, but since they are both prorated over the life of a long-term deal, I figured it was safe to include them in the totals. It only factors in two long-term contracts—Gregory Polanco and you know who—as the Pirates don’t have a lot of future commitments as of right now.

Signing Bonuses (or Prorated Buyouts): $850,000 / $850,000

Again, the same two contracts are included here, so nothing new to discuss.

Cash Considerations: $1,500,000 / $1,500,000

When the Pirates traded Starling Marte to the Arizona Diamondbacks in January, they committed to paying $1,500,000 of his $11,500,000 salary. With his prorated salary of $4,259,259 surpassing that commitment, my assumption is the Pirates are still responsible for the same amount, as they promised to pay that much of the contract and not a prorated portion.

Credits: $(6,090,812) / $($2,762,444)

The Pirates will have three players on the Restricted List this season: Santana, Reyes, and you know who. A spot on the list comes with no salary, so the team will not be committed to pay them for 2020. This is completely my interpretation of the rules, but I think that since Reyes was suspended before the March Agreement that his 80-game suspension will be served in full over this season, while Santana will still have to serve 20 games at the start of next season. We will have to wait and see, but that’s my reading as of right now.

2020 Payroll Projection: $61,761,188 / $24,540,149

If you care about such things, I came up with two additional payroll calculations for 2020. Since the Competitive Balance Tax calculation will be based on full season salaries—not that the Pirates have to worry about that—I came to a total of $57,173,867 in Average Annual Value. As for straight cash paid, it’s $23,390,149. You can find these totals in the payroll spreadsheets as well, and I will also be tracking both of these figures as the season goes.

As I always say, I don’t care what the actual number is, just that the calculation is correct. This season will present some new challenges in making sure the calculation is correct, but I’m going to try my best to make sure it’s as accurate as possible. Be sure to follow along as the season progresses, hopefully into September.

A longtime Pirates Prospects reader, Ethan has been covering payroll, transactions, and rules in-depth since 2018 and dabbling in these topics for as long as he can remember. He started writing about the Pirates at The Point of Pittsburgh before moving over to Pirates Prospects at the start of the 2019 season.

Always a lover of numbers and finding an answer, Ethan much prefers diving into these topics over what’s actually happening on the field. These under and often incorrectly covered topics are truly his passion, and he does his best to educate fans on subjects they may not always understand, but are important nonetheless.

When he’s not updating his beloved spreadsheets, Ethan works full-time as an accountant, while being a dad to two young daughters and watching too many movies and TV shows at night.

Support Pirates Prospects

Related articles

join the discussion

Share article

Pirates Prospects Daily

Latest articles

Pirates Prospects Weekly

MONDAY: First Pitch

TUESDAY: Article Drop


THURSDAY: Roundtable

FRIDAY: Discussion

SATURDAY: Pirates Winter Report

SUNDAY: Pirates Business

Latest comments