It took about a month longer than it has in the recent past, but The Associated Press finally gave us their yearly gift and reported the official year-end payrolls for 2022—both the Labor Relations Department and Competitive Balance Tax varieties.
This is one of my favorite and most looked forward to reports of the year, as I get to compare my estimates to actual verified figures.
Back in October, I put to print my estimated payrolls of $60,925,548 (LRD) and $73,959,797 (CBT). Just how did these end up comparing?
First of all, I want to point out some quick adjustments, at least to the CBT calculation.
The AP’s report gave the official benefits number that is accounted for in the total—$16,016,707. My estimate was based on a $16,000,000 placeholder, so I added $16,707 to the final amount. Also, between October and now it was brought to my attention that there was an unreported bonus that the Pittsburgh Pirates had on their books, so I added another $717,213. While I’m not adding that to the LRD number, as I’m not sure if it belongs there or not as of yet, both these extra amounts brought my projected CBT total to $74,693,717.
As for the official figures, the AP has the Pirates with a LRD payroll of $61,196,070 and a CBT payroll of $75,399,389. I decided to compare my work to that of the other industry standards in this space—Spotrac and Roster Resource—and here is what I came up with:
|Labor Relations Department|
|Competitive Balance Tax|
As you can see, my final $270,522 difference in the LRD calculation significantly bested both, while we were all much closer on the final CBT calculations. Spotrac was still including the $10 million figure for He Who Shall Not Be Named, so they should be totally omitted from the conversation, as I’m not sure how they even came as close as they did.
But I digress…
In my opinion, you’re in the right place for your payroll source. I take pride in my work, and I love to see the validation in that paying off.
As for the bits I honestly couldn’t care less about but need to relay anyway:
The Pirates ranked 28th and 29th in LRD and CBT totals, respectively, finishing in front of only the Baltimore Orioles and Oakland Athletics. Year-over-year, the Pirates increased a total of $13,587,248 ($61,812,141 to $75,399,389) in CBT dollars, which is part of trend I actually do find interesting.
As you can see from the figures below, CBT spending skyrocketed from 2021 to 2022:
This is why the players’ battle for higher CBT thresholds was so important, as spending rose in conjunction with the spending limits.
Of course, a lot of the heavy lifting was done pre-lockout, so 2022 may not be the best barometer; however, spending always goes up directly after a new agreement and labor peace is assured for a few years, and so far this offseason has not proven otherwise.
It’s hard to imagine final totals going down from 2022, and it will be interesting to watch over the next few years if the rising tide continues to lift all boats.
Offseason Calendar Update
No updates here as of this week.
Pirates Payroll Updates
The team had already agreed with Andújar back in November on a $1,525,000 contract. They are tied to that amount no matter what—unless Andújar is outrighted and elects free agency, his right as a player with over three years of service—and that guarantee actually makes him more likely to stick around.
The Baltimore Orioles were recently able to pull off something similar with Ryan O’Hearn—who is close to Andújar in salary, position, and service—after designating him for assignment. Teams were likely weary of taking on such a financial commitment for a depth piece, and the Orioles knew that, also betting that O’Hearn wouldn’t elect free agency and forgo his $1.4M salary. So, they were able to keep him in the organization for depth at the same price while saving a 40-man spot in the process.
That’s very likely the Pirates’ thought process in making this move.
As for payroll implications, I recalled Tucupita Marcano to the active roster and added the immortal Ryan Vilade back, and the payroll went up $645,742 in the process.
—For 2023, the payroll estimate stands at $73,202,372 for the Labor Relations Department, while it’s $89,619,039 for CBT purposes.
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.