Breaking Down the Pirates’ 2022 Year-End Payroll

With another year behind us, it’s another year of Pirates payroll in the books.

As always, I don’t care what the final number actually is. My goal is to be the most accurate, in-depth, and understandable source available for payroll tracking. It doesn’t matter to me how low or how high the number is, only that it’s right.

For anyone who doesn’t remember or may have missed it, I covered the Opening Day payroll using the same ideology when the season started. This will be the starting point for all the following comparisons—I will show where it started, where it ended, and make note of any relevant information regarding in-season changes.

Major League Salary

Included in this drop is technically the releases of Yoshi Tsutsugo, Heath Hembree, and Jake Marisnick; however, those commitments simply moved to Termination Pay, zeroing out in total.

Otherwise, the biggest chunks of the decrease went to players who started on the injured list and were optioned/designated for assignment (Luis Oviedo/$671,786, Sam Howard/$645,330, Anthony Alford/$633,379) and the two extra roster spots that teams started the season with (Aaron Fletcher/$565,549, Miguel Yajure/$464,835). This shows how much injuries can inflate a starting figure.

Players who were traded lowered the figure, such as Chris Stratton ($964,286) and José Quintana ($714,286), along with Andrew Knapp ($615,385) electing free agency.

Of course, other players take these spots eventually and these decreases need offset. Waiver claims or minor trades (Tyler Heineman/$550,000, Tyler Beede/$533,462, Manny Bañuelos /$413,187), selections (Chase De Jong/$807,692, Yerry De Los Santos/$523,077), and recalls (Jack Suwinski/$453,846, Canaan Smith-Njigba/$442,308, Oneil Cruz/$418,352, Roansy Contreras/$406,731) are the biggest culprits, as the team didn’t make any major trade acquisitions.

Major League Salary Starting Total: $55,761,800

Major League Salary Final Total: $53,214,077

Minor League Salary

Recalls lowered the starting total (Cruz/$67,708, Contreras/$65,827); however, players usually are going the other way, increasing the total in turn (Hoy Park/$87,142, Yajure/$75,231). Again, the two extra players starting the year and injured players are likely the biggest factors for the increase.

These are obviously smaller figures, so without something more notable sticking out, it’s basically daily transactions that will make this figure fluctuate.

Minor League Salary Starting Total: $685,200

Minor League Salary Final Total: $1,180,888

Outright Assignments

Before the season started, the Pirates outrighted Michael Perez, Jared Oliva, Eric Hanhold, and Adonis Medina after tendering them contracts, tying them to the $667,300.

The $325,000 allotted to Perez mostly shifted to major league salary after he was selected, as he only accounted for $53,571 here. However, that was offset by several players that were outrighted in season, which resulted in the team committing to those salaries (at minor league rates) as well: Cam Alldred ($81,500), Jerad Eickhoff ($99,890), and Austin Brice ($74,038) were among the larger commitments.

Outright Assignments Starting Total: $667,300

Outright Assignments Final Total: $735,418

Option Buyouts

As covered to start the season, teams report buyouts to the Labor Relations Department in the year the option was to cover, so the team’s payout to Gregory Polanco was included in the 2022 figures.

For what it’s worth, this is not an insignificant amount (roughly 5% of the final total) when it comes to the drop off between 2022 ending payroll and 2023 beginning.

Option Buyouts Starting Total: $3,000,000

Option Buyouts Final Total: $3,000,000

Performance Bonuses

There were no actual payouts here, but I did want to at least mention that Ben Gamel fell 27 plate appearances shy (423 versus 450) of a $100,000 bonus. This actually would have pushed the final total over $61 million.

Gamel’s 37-day stint on the injured list obviously didn’t help here.

Performance Bonuses Starting Total: $0

Performance Bonuses Final Total: $0

Termination Pay

The Pirates were forced to release a few veteran players, as they couldn’t find any takers on their salaries.

Yoshi Tsutsugo ($1,340,659), Heath Hembree ($1,179,258), and Jake Marisnick ($421,429) were all paid by the team to go away.

Termination Pay Starting Total: $0

Termination Pay Final Total: $2,941,346


However, the team did get a slight reprieve from Hembree’s salary, as he was eventually selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers after signing a minor league deal, along with $142,308 of the tab.

This was the prorated minimum from the time Hembree had his contract selected by the Dodgers to the end of the season. One fine detail I wish I knew—he was eventually designated for assignment by the team and elected free agency. My figures assume the Dodgers still paid for the prorated minimum after the election; however, it’s at least possible the Pirates had to reassume that payment, but I can’t be sure. It would roughly cut the number below in half if that were the case.

The one-game suspension of Rodolfo Castro is also included here.

Credits Starting Total: $0

Credits Final Total: $(146,181)

Pittsburgh Pirates 2022 Payroll

2022 Opening Day Payroll: $60,114,300

Final 2022 Payroll: $60,925,548

As usual, for the record, I have the Collective Balance Tax figure at $73,959,797, which includes an estimated $16 million in benefits and $1,666,667 for the Pirates’ share in the new pre-arbitration bonus pool. This is what I’ll use for comparison’s sake when the official figures are (hopefully) reported around December. If and when that happens, I’ll probably write something up comparing my total to the official calculation, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Offseason Calendar Update

There are no more significant dates on the offseason calendar until after the playoffs end, but we were provided one major offseason mainstay that I look forward to every year.

MLB Trade Rumors released their yearly arbitration estimates from Matt Swartz, the final piece I need to finalize my offseason payroll tracker.

Six players were listed, matching the group I provided last week, and here are the accompanying estimates for their 2023 salaries via arbitration:

Kevin Newman: $2.8 million

Mitch Keller: $2.4 million

JT Brubaker: $2 million

Robert Stephenson: $1.9 million

Miguel Andújar: $1.7 million

Duane Underwood Jr.: $1 million

Also, as I have been theorizing, they listed Andújar as having 4.002 years of service, meaning he very likely is left with two years of contractual control through arbitration.

Pirates Payroll Updates

As stated, now that I have the arbitration estimates, I have finalized my first 2023 estimate for the offseason.

I’ll cover that in this space next week.

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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