Pirates Business: In-Season Payroll Update

With the season a quarter of the way through, I thought it would be a good time to do a quick update on how the payroll has changed since opening day. Remember, the impact of every move is judged as if it’s the last, with future moves—such as an expected option—not being calculated until they happen.

To date, the biggest impact to the estimate has been the injury to Oneil Cruz. Mark Mathias was recalled, taking his place and raising payroll $479,941. That increase was multiplied when the team went fishing for another shortstop option, selecting the contract of Chris Owings and optioning Mathias back to Indianapolis. Owings has a major league salary of $1 million, so payroll increased $387,172 from that move, netting out at a $867,113 increase due to the Cruz injury.

As usual, injuries are basically always the biggest driver in payroll increases, as the team saw with finding replacements for Ji-Man Choi and Rob Zastryzny. Tucupita Marcano and Yohan Ramirez were recalled for each, respectively, and neither has gone back down. Zastryzny was recently activated from the injured list, but the corresponding move was Miguel Andújar, which resulted in no offsetting decrease since he was outrighted before the season and already factored in. Payroll went up $482,893 for Marcano and $479,468 for Ramirez.

Next up is the designation of Chase De Jong and the corresponding selection of Josh Palacios, resulting in a $249,110 increase after De Jong’s salary went from $820,000 in the majors to $403,807 after accepting an outright assignment.

The Drew Maggi feel-good story resulted in a modest payroll bump of $121,690, which can all be attributed to a nice raise for Maggi himself, who went from $15,500 per month on his minor league contract to $23,226 for six days in the majors and a minor league salary of $117,400 while on outright assignment.

The selection of Cody Bolton—and option of Canaan Smith-Njigba—led to a $193,777 increase, with Smith-Njigba’s earnings while in the minors representing wages towards the payroll that weren’t hitting for Bolton, while waiver claims of Edwin Uceta and Eli Villalobos resulted in respective raises of $2,674 and $54,690. Uceta was quickly designated for assignment and subsequently claimed, which is why that increase was so low.

To close this out, we’ll touch on the Tyler Heineman saga. When Austin Hedges went on the 7-day concussion IL, Heineman was selected and payroll went up $778,495, as he had a $800,000 salary upon his selection. When Hedges came back and he was optioned, payroll went down $597,581, and when he was designated for assignment to make room for Bolton and eventually traded, the estimate went down again by $124,194. In all, Hedges’ stint on the IL cost the team an extra $56,720 in total.

On quick note regarding the most major of transactions of this early season—the contract extension of Bryan Reynolds. Despite the reports that it’s an 8-year extension for $106.75 million, it’s actually a 7-year, $100 million extension kicking in starting next season. That means that Reynolds’ 2023 salary is unaffected, as is his impact to the payroll.

In total, the projected payroll estimate has increased $2,512,061 since opening day, for a new total of $77,588,370; however, future transactions will continue to tweak that number as the season goes along. It’s most likely to go down, as an inordinate number of players have been injured early on and have yet to return, meaning the number is artificially inflated, not yet to be offset by subsequent options for injury replacements no longer needed.

Check back around the halfway point for another update to see where it stands.

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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That should be a prerequisite to take the CPA exam

Nice job!

Can anyone see Choi getting another AB for the bucs this year

If so, who’s spot?

Was not a fan of the acquisition, close friends in Tampa said he was DFA bound before the trade. They panicked and traded a lottery piece for injured, benched, player headed for arbitration, worse than yoshie #’s


Wow. Our payroll is $77 million.


Great work as always!

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