How Much Payroll Can the Pirates Trade Away?

With the trade deadline just a few days away, I thought I’d examine just how much of the Pittsburgh Pirates payroll would go down if any of the players that could be on the block are traded away.

Of course, this does not account for the additional salary of the players’ replacement ($206,031 for your run-of-the-mill minimum player), so this number will be more than how much payroll actually changes—I’ll break that down after the deadline. Also, these numbers assume a player is traded on the deadline—August 2nd at 6 pm.

Finally, these are strictly my predictions, so while the players you hear about constantly are listed, there are a few more that I think at least have a chance of being shipped out before the deadline passes.

Bryan Reynolds

Signed through: 2023 (Arbitration Eligible for 2024 and 2025)

Guaranteed Salary Remaining: $2,373,626 in 2022 ($6,750,000 in 2023)

Analysis: Probably not getting traded, but as they say, where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

Yoshi Tsutsugo

Signed through: 2022

Guaranteed Salary Remaining: $1,406,593

Analysis: Might as well chalk this up as Termination Pay, because Tsutsugo isn’t getting traded.

Chris Stratton

Signed through: 2022 (Arbitration Eligible for 2023)

Guaranteed Salary Remaining: $949,451

Analysis: His market has probably been better in the past, but every team in the league needs functional bullpen help.

José Quintana

Signed through: 2022

Guaranteed Salary Remaining: $703,297

Analysis: There’s a subset of fans that want to see Quintana stay, and while I see their point, I don’t think that’s how the club plays it.

Kevin Newman

Signed through: 2022 (Arbitration Eligible for 2023 and 2024)

Guaranteed Salary Remaining: $685,714

Analysis: It’s hard to tell if another team would want what it is that Newman provides, but there’s at least somewhat of a chance he gets moved.

Ben Gamel

Signed through: 2022

Guaranteed Salary Remaining: $632,967

Analysis: Maybe another team sees Gamel as a competent fourth outfielder, but this feels like a return that fans will ultimately be upset with, pumping up Gamel to more than he is. (I think this probably applies to Quintana as well, for what it’s worth)

Jake Marisnick

Signed through: 2022

Guaranteed Salary Remaining: $457,143

Analysis: A not-so-great toe probably kills whatever slim chance Marisnick had of being traded.

Chase De Jong

Signed through: 2022 (Arbitration Eligible for 2024, 2025, and 2026)

Guaranteed Salary Remaining: $307,692

Analysis: Has been solid—as relievers go—since being selected in the first month of the season and see the thought process behind Stratton.

Tyler Beede

Signed through: 2022 (Arbitration Eligible for 2023, 2024, and 2025)

Guaranteed Salary Remaining: $256,703

Analysis: See Stratton, Chris and De Jong, Chris

Duane Underwood Jr.

Signed through: 2022 (Arbitration Eligible for 2023, 2024, and 2025)

Guaranteed Salary Remaining: $254,945

Analysis: See Stratton et al

David Bednar

Signed through: 2022 (Arbitration Eligible for 2024, 2025, and 2026)

Guaranteed Salary Remaining: $251,429

Analysis: I know many fans think it crazy to even consider this idea, but to me, there’s never a bad time to sell high on relief pitching. Bednar was a tertiary piece in the Joe Musgrove deal, and it’s been proven time and again that impact relievers can be found almost anywhere.

Do his recent struggles with performance, fatigue, and possible injury make it a bad time to explore this though?

Pirates Payroll Updates

—When the Pittsburgh Pirates traded Daniel Vogelbach to the New York Mets last week, payroll went down $282,651, as Greg Allen took Vogelbach’s roster spot and the player coming back in return—Colin Holderman—was optioned, thus offsetting the payroll drop less than he would have had he made the active roster.

Holderman—who actually would have been eligible for minor league free agency after the season had he not been selected by the Mets—had been up for 63 days before the trade. If he comes back up to replace another reliever traded at the deadline—which is less than 15 days after his option, but he could do that if he’s replacing an assigned player—it would be another 81 days (65 on the calendar, but he wouldn’t have been on option for 20 days in this scenario, so the days get counted as major league service), putting him at .144 days of service for the season. That puts him at six years of contractual control remaining and in Super 2 territory, but that matters little for relief pitchers. He also would have three options remaining.

As for Vogelbach, the Pirates obviously get out from under a $200,000 buyout for 2023 at the least, as well as ceding at least two more years of contractual control—Vogelbach was on track to still be arbitration eligible in 2024.

—Payroll goes down another $132,143 after the Pirates managed to unload Michael Perez on the Mets. This is slightly higher than it otherwise could have been, as Perez’s minor league split ($325,000) was higher than your average player in the minors.

—Assuming Reynolds is only away for the maximum of three days on paternity leave, payroll goes up $9,658 for Madris’ (possible) brief stay. Also, his optional assignment was 20 days exactly, so he will use an option for 2022.

—Finally, if you pay attention to my tracking of the Pirates’ draft signing pool, you’ll see a $2,500 difference in space remaining from elsewhere. This is because it seems a part of Thomas Harrington’s reported $2,050,000 signing bonus was actually a Contingent Payment, which, by rule, can’t be more than $2,500 and doesn’t count against the pool. Basically, Harrington’s bonus counted $2,047,500 against the pool, and the Pirates have a whole $2,500 more to spend.

The only reason I’m as confident in this as I am is because the same situation seemed to play out with Anthony Solometo last year. His bonus against the slot was $2,500 less than first reported, and the Pirates spent every penny available to them in 2021. They assuredly didn’t go over by $2,500, so this helps explain that discrepancy in reporting.

Payroll stands at $61,055,883 for the Labor Relations Department, while it’s $74,090,133 for CBT purposes. The Vogelbach transaction is the first of the season that was measured differently between the two, as his AAV ($1,000,000) was different from his actual 2022 salary ($800,000).

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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.

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Apparently the Pirates don’t know where to look for the impact relievers that can be found anywhere : Hembree, Fletcher, Banda, Howard, Stout, Hanhold, Banuelos not to mention Peters, Crowe Underwood and Stratton reverting to bad middle reliever performances.



“There’s never a bad time to sell high on relief pitching. Bednar was a tertiary piece in the Joe Musgrove deal, and it’s been proven time and again that impact relievers can be found almost anywhere.”


Watson got the Pirates Cruz, so if they move any of these players for a lottery ticket type prospect, then I am all in.


The Pirates payroll has become such a joke, that this is a topic that should be avoided. MLB should be embarrassed at the lack of real competitive balance in the sport, compared to other professional sports. Teams with $300 million dollar payrolls competing with teams with $30-50 million dollar payrolls (for the 25 man roster). Until there is a meaningful and hard salary cap, along with a meaningful and hard salary floor for owners like Nutting, the Pirates have precious chance to be competitive other than an occasional 2-3 year run within a 30 year period when all planets align. Add in their management incompetence, it appears hopeless until ownership and management changes…..sorry to rain on your parade……


It works for the NFL and NHL.


Ethan. The titles of your articles often scare me a little, but I realize you just enjoy playing with the numbers and are not suggesting that cutting payroll is a good thing. There’s nothing wrong with saving money but the obvious question always becomes where will those savings go?

Comparing the Pirate payroll to other teams (the only way I have of doing that is by looking at what’s posted on Internet sights so you obviously would know more) is always a depressing exercise because it becomes obvious that being competitive with those numbers is nearly impossible even when comparing just to the other teams in their own division. Unless that changes significantly does it really matter if the Pirates save a million dollars while teams they are trying to compete with for the division are spending somewhere between 45-85 million dollars more than they are?

Wilbur Miller

The Legend of Gamel is a perfect example of low expectations, Pirate style. He’s at best an avg hitter — 96 career OPS+ — which as a corner OF makes him not very good. On a major league team, he’s a 4th OF that you’d like to improve upon. On the Pirates, he’s a middle of the order mainstay. Despite the diving catches that enthrall the mediots, he’s a little below avg defensively, according to Statcast, which rates his jumps as poor.

I can’t see him bringing much beyond Nutting’s favorite, Sid Cash. Maybe a low-level reliever.


I say that is good enough as, at this point, he is kind of in the way.


So you’re saying the possibility of utilizing Gamel’s unprecedented trade value 
to dump Yohsi’s contract isn’t gonna fly?

Last edited 1 year ago by HeisenbergWW
Wilbur Miller

Diving Jeter Syndrome


I rode this grift all the way through high school to gain a rep as a good third baseman.

Even then I could only move my feet like they were cast in concrete, but everyone loves a diving stop!


Pretty sure this is also how Colin Moran somehow was allowed to stay at 3B through the early part of his career.


Ethan: I guess I jumped the gun a little. In a post this morning I listed 10 players – Quintana, Underwood, Stratton, Gamel, Chavis and Newman in that order of being able to be traded. Either way, they are not needed by the Pirates. Then VanMeter, Marisnick, Tsutsugo, and Allen who have to leave by Aug 3 regardless of their interest from other clubs – they will probably be DFA’s.

Newman might be a throw-in in a trade involving Q or Underwood, but if he is not unloaded by the deadline, he goes into the other group and gets DFA’d. Somebody may pick him up as a minor league sign, but that would be his best hope.

And Shelton will need some time to get his resume’ written so Don Kelly becomes the Pirates interim Manager on Aug 3.


The money discussion doesn’t interest me as much as the hope that Yoshi, Marisnick and Van Meter can be traded or more likely released. As far as your last sentence I believe the firing of Shelton is obviously justified and hiring Kelly would probably be a shot in the arm to awaken this sleepy squad.


The Pirates winning percentages the past 3 years under Shelton are terrible –

19-41, .317 in 2020
61-101, 377 in 2021
40-59, .404 so far in 2022

The talent has not been the greatest, and that’s on BC and BN, but he just cannot motivate this team. Time to move on down the road.

It’s almost impossible to win when many of your players are crap. Yeah, Shelton made some bonehead moves a few times in his first role as manager, however, I would put the blame directly on the front office and the owner for not giving Shelton at least some decent players to work with. Personally, I’d give Shelton one more year. Next year will definitely be a “proving” year, since they’ll have at least 2-3 starters up from AA/AAA and a lot of position players playing that look very promising. I would expect that the Pirates should have at least a 72-77 win season. If not, then both the front office and the manager need to be re-examined.


This board is living proof for why scapegoat firings happen, lol.


This team needs a major shakeup starting with the manager.


Kelly is local from Little League through College and makes his home right out the road North of Pittsburgh in the off-season. Bro-in-Law of Neil Walker. Can’t draw this up any better – all we need is somebody with the desire to develop a winner in Pittsburgh!

Wilbur Miller

Pirates Prospects Daily


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