Pirates Business: Official Year-End Payrolls Announced

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
Source Final Difference % Diff
AP   61,196,070    
Spotrac   66,184,032    4,987,962 7.54%
Roster Resource   58,707,802  (2,488,268) -4.24%
Pirates Prospects   60,925,548      (270,522) -0.44%
       
Competitive Balance Tax
Source Final Difference % Diff
AP   75,399,389    
Spotrac   73,807,070  (1,592,319) -2.16%
Roster Resource   74,641,176      (758,213) -1.02%
Pirates Prospects   74,693,717      (705,672) -0.94%

 

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:

  2021 2022 Difference
NYM      207,728,776      299,842,423        92,113,647
NYY      208,418,540      267,753,417        59,334,877
COL      117,210,393      172,251,358        55,040,965
TEX      111,309,808      160,505,146        49,195,338
DET      103,879,667      152,359,282        48,479,615
SEA      102,679,174      145,137,950        42,458,776
ATL      172,630,704      214,092,505        41,461,801
CHW      177,837,827      215,631,300        37,793,473
TBR        89,833,652      125,261,660        35,428,008
PHI      209,370,501      244,413,284        35,042,783
TOR      166,054,167      198,543,787        32,489,620
MIA        82,332,229      114,348,173        32,015,944
CLE        62,212,834        91,592,881        29,380,047
BOS      207,640,471      236,149,678        28,509,207
MIN      145,511,247      173,198,565        27,687,318
MIL      131,990,136      153,006,350        21,016,214
SDP      216,467,691      235,082,125        18,614,434
CHC      165,665,645      180,512,338        14,846,693
PIT        61,812,141        75,399,389        13,587,248
ARI      109,387,132      118,290,204           8,903,072
LAD      285,599,944      293,330,382           7,730,438
BAL        76,348,794        82,898,023           6,549,229
KCR      108,026,769      114,324,301           6,297,532
HOU      206,641,209      210,686,230           4,045,021
SFG      173,481,453      171,423,107         (2,058,346)
LAA      198,984,916      193,269,044         (5,715,872)
WAS      174,582,117      160,500,353       (14,081,764)
CIN      144,248,891      125,021,497       (19,227,394)
STL      198,350,234      174,439,667       (23,910,567)
OAK      102,225,663        65,325,365       (36,900,298)
       
    4,518,462,725   5,164,589,784      646,127,059

 

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

—To make room for the official signing of Andrew McCutchen, the Pirates designated Miguel Andújar for assignment.

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.

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1979andCounting

Every year I ask this……this is 40-man payroll not 26-man. Come Opening Day, it seems other Media report the 26-man which I find more useful to compare actual wins on the field vs luxury tax reporting. Also where did AP get their numbers and why are they the basis?

1979andCounting

Not meant to be snarky, but as a fan I value the 26-man numbers. It doesn’t make a huge difference but why give Nutting (or any owner) credit for $73M in OD payroll, when that’s counting 14 other guys who aren’t even in Pirates uniforms, and are playing or injured in other minor league towns. Just two ways to look at it. Thanks for your work.

Anthony

Spending actually rose commensurate with MLB revenues, which were $1.3B higher in 2022 versus 2021 and finally surpassing pre-pandemic levels. I don’t think the CBT thresholds had anything to do with it.

skliesen

Ethan, when can we expect Liberty Media to release their financial results from last season? This gives us an idea how much profit BN really makes.

Anthony

Sorry, not Ethan, but probably middle to end of February. It’s a good test of reasonableness for the Forbes estimates, which can be used to make a pseudo operating statement. I’m more interested to see their debt levels and the associated costs to service that debt. I am also curious as to their working capital requirements.

Last edited 9 days ago by Anthony
skliesen

You should toot your own horn Ethan. Very impressive work. If you’re not getting paid in the field of finance, you should be.

In looking at the current numbers compared to ‘21 & ‘22, it appears Pirates may have room for one or two more above minimum wage bullpen additions.

skliesen

Guilty of not reading your bio. Sorry. And yes Accounting is most certainly part of Finance, no matter what hoity toity CFO’s say. 😎

The Gunner

Great job, Ethan – you are officially my go to guy when it comes to Pirates payroll from this point forward.

ricramer

Great work sir. Truly impressive.

b mcferren

wonder if travis is about to announce surprise logo change? now is good marker to trigger a fresh new chapter for the organization

an easy change would be to start marketing the 1990 logo again and encourage the whole team to grow mustashes like Wehner, Jeff King and RJ Reynolds

JimEastTennessee

Nah, give me the 60s mustard with Stargell Stars on a pillbox cap

bscat

I think you mean late ’70s. I prefer the ’60s sleeveless with black undershirt.

JimEastTennessee

Nope. marry the 60s with the 70s pillbox

bscat

Oh, I see. You meant the mustard cap, which I also like.

b mcferren

I like that too

Anything is better than what they’ve had since 2001

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