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Pirates Business: The Domestic Reserve List

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Prior to the 2021 season, Major League Baseball finalized a plan to streamline the minors, dropping 42 affiliated teams and settling at 120—four affiliates per team. As part of this plan, a Domestic Reserve List was instituted, limiting teams to 180 players during the season and 190 during the offseason.

To get a more in-depth look at the Domestic Reserve List, you can check out my primer. For today, while we are in the doldrums of the offseason, I thought I’d recap some of the basic rules that make up the list and take a look at where the Pittsburgh Pirates stand at the moment.

  • During the season, any player on optional or outright assignment counts against the limit. Since players on the Reserve List are recalled during the offseason, that’s 40 players at most that aren’t taking up spots towards the 190 limit.
  • Only assignments to the domestic affiliates count—no player in the Dominican Summer League is on the list until they are assigned in the states.
  • The 180 limit takes effect on the earliest day on which the minor league schedule opens, while it gets bumped up to 190 on the fifth day following the end of the World Series—a popular deadline for many other rules and regulations.
  • Players on the 7-day injured list are included on the Domestic Reserve List, while players on the 60-day injured list are not. This reflects rules for the standard Reserve List and is a way to push roster decisions and keep extra players around.
  • Any player who has been designated for assignment exists in the ether, counting neither towards the Reserve List or Domestic Reserve List, until they are assigned that is.
  • Players on the Restricted List do not count against the Domestic Reserve List.
  • Newly drafted players are not counted until the first game they play or until the end of the Major League regular season, whichever comes first.
  • If a team makes a transaction that puts them over the threshold, they have 48 hours to make a corresponding move in order to adhere to the limitations.

The unfortunate disclaimer that applies to every breakdown right now applies to this as well—with no current rulebook to work from, it’s possible that something could have changed regarding this set of rules from 2021. For now, the assumption is that nothing has, until further notice.

With all this in mind, where do the Pirates stand with a month to go before Spring Training?

Currently, I have the organizational count at 291 players. Take 74 DSL players and 41 active roster spots away and you’re down to 176. Remove Francisco Acuna and Rayber Romero, who both have suspensions stretching into 2023, and I have the Pirates at a Domestic Reserve List of 174, or 16 below the offseason limit.

Despite a fair amount of minor league acquisitions, whether via trade or signing, the team still has plenty of cushion to operate with. I’m sure the culling during to the minor league phase of the Rule 5 Draft plays into this, as did the obvious factor of minor league free agency. The Pirates have been able to get there without any releasing any players from domestic affiliates up to this point, as best I can tell.

That will be an unfortunate reality at some point down the line, as players start to get optioned during spring training and a ten spot reduction looms. Further roster casualties will need to happen a few months into the season, as the FCL schedule starts and players from the DSL are moved stateside to play in the league.

Offseason Calendar Update

No updates here as of this week

Pirates Payroll Updates

—On Friday, the Pirates agreed with some guy named Andrew McCutchen.

To make room on the roster, I designated Ryan Vilade for assignment and optioned Cal Mitchell. In all, this increased payroll by $4,351,221 and pushed the team over $70 million.

—Friday was also the deadline to exchange arbitration figures, and the Pirates came to agreements with four of their remaining five eligible players.

Actual salaries were $187,500 higher than the estimated placeholders, increasing payroll a commensurate amount.

However, the team could not settle with Ji-Man Choi, submitting a salary of $4,650,000 versus Choi’s $5,400,000. The sides are likely to go to trial, but for now, I increased payroll $150,000, since that’s the lowest the adjustment to Choi’s current estimate will be.

—For 2023, the payroll estimate stands at $72,556,630 for the Labor Relations Department, while it’s $88,973,297 for CBT purposes.

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Ethan Hullihen
Ethan Hullihen
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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