Pirates Payroll In 2013 And Contracts Going Forward

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Friday, February.8, 2013

Pittsburgh GM Neil Huntington has found creative ways to help the Budget out - by taking risks on Wandy Rodriguez and A.J. Burnett.  They are both being paid portions of their contracts by their previous teams.

Pittsburgh GM Neil Huntington has found creative ways to help the Budget out – by taking risks on Wandy Rodriguez and A.J. Burnett. They are both being paid portions of their contracts by their previous teams.  Signing Andrew McCutchen to a long-term contract has also given the franchise the ability to add players in 2013 if need be.

By Brad Cuprik (Pirates Correspondent)

On August 8 of last season, the Pittsburgh Pirates were 63-47, 2.5 games back of the First-place Cincinnati Reds, securely into the second Wild-Card Spot – and had the fourth-best record in the National League. The wheels came off, the Bucs finished on a 16-36 slide, 18 games back of the Reds and with the 10th-best record in the NL. Reality could have caught up to a overperforming squad, or a youthful team took the next step in learning how to win. Either way, the Pirates enter 2013 with breaking a streak of 20 losing seasons on their minds.

General Manager Neal Huntington has been shrewd and active, signing MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen to a long-term deal in 2012 and getting other clubs to eat up significant chunks of their largest contracts when acquiring their top two starters. Starting pitching depth has been added and Huntington is even taking more high-priced risks, landing Catcher Russell Martin as a Free Agent.

Pittsburgh Pirates 2012 Highlights:

The Yankees Dealt Burnett to the Bucs prior to the 2012 season. NYY ate 20 of the 33 Million Dollars remaining for 2012 and 2013 years. Burnett was was 10-2 in the 1st half  for the Bucs

The Yankees Dealt Burnett to the Bucs prior to the 2012 season. NYY ate 20 of the 33 Million Dollars remaining for 2012 and 2013. Burnett was 10-2 in the 1st half for the Bucs and 16-10 overall.  Great value for his salary paid by Pittsburgh ($5 MIL.)


A.J. Burnett SP – (Last Year of 5-YR Deal) $16,500,000 – When the Pirates acquired Burnett prior to the 2012 season, part of the deal included the Yankees paying a good portion of his salary. In 2013, the Pirates are only responsible for $8 Million of his salary. At his total salary, Burnett could easily be considered overpaid, but if he puts up similar numbers to 2012, the Bucs are getting great value in paying just under half of it.

Wandy Rodriguez SP – (Last Year of 3-YR Deal but has club option for 2014 at $13 Million with Pirates paying $7.5 Million and Houston paying $5.5 million) $13,000,000 – Like the Burnett deal, Pittsburgh’s trade for Rodriguez at last season’s trading deadline included the Pirates getting part of the contract taken care of. The Astros are paying $5 Million, leaving the Bucs to pay $8 Million, and Rodriguez for one season at that price was a better choice than signing a Free Agent Pitcher to a Multi-Year deal. Although he is not the more dominant pitcher he was during his tenure with the Astros, the Pirates would have no problem picking up the option for 2014 and allowing the Astros to pay again if he performs as he did last season.

Russell Martin is being paid as one of the top contracts for the Pirates in 2013.

Russell Martin is being paid as the 3rd top contract for the Pirates in 2013 at 6.5 Million and his signing bonus moves it to 7.5 MIL versus the payroll.

Russell Martin C – (1st Year of 2-YR Deal) $6,500,000 + $1,000,000 signing bonus – The Pirates had a gaping hole at Catcher after last year’s Free Agent signing experiment, Rod Barajas, did not go positively. Martin’s Batting Average has dipped over the past three seasons but the Bucs ponied up to get arguably the best backstop available on the Free-Agent market. Martin will have to produce because he will be owed close to $10 Million in 2014.

Clint Barmes 2B/SS – (Last Year of 2-YR Deal) $5,500,000 – You could easily go back and say the Pirates have received progressively less offensively with each shortstop since Jay Bell left the Bucs in 1996. Barmes struggled for much of the year at the plate but did give Pittsburgh some stability in the middle infield. Still, much more was expected out of Barmes’ bat for that price and now he is keeping the position warm until prospect Alen Hanson is ready.

Andrew McCutchen OF – (2nd Year of 6-YR Deal) $4,500,000 + $208,333 signing bonus – McCutchen was close to being the National League MVP in 2012, so Pittsburgh is again getting great value at an average of $8.5 Million per season over the entire contract. At a very team-friendly $4.5 Million in 2013, McCutchen’s deal gives the Pirates numerous options to upgrade the team.

Garrett Jones 1B/OF/PH – (1-YR Deal) $4,500,000 – The subject of trade rumors throughout 2012 and the winter, Jones remained a Pirate when the sides avoided arbitration and came up with the one-year deal. Coming off a career year, Jones’ power (27 HRs) is worth it, but he remains a defensive liability whether he is in Right Field or First base.

Neil Walker 2B – (1-YR Deal) $3,300,000 – The Pirates also avoided Arbitration with their Second Baseman with a One-Year Deal, but fans wished for a Multi-Year Deal to lock up the hometown hero. Walker missed much of the stretch run in 2012, when Pittsburgh was trying to avoid that 20th straight losing season. His sore back has obviously given the Pirates some concern in staying away from a multi-year deal. When healthy, Walker is one of the better run-producers at his position in the National League.

James McDonald SP – (1-YR Deal) $3,025,000 – The Jekyll/Hyde performance from McDonald kept the pitcher from earning a multi-year deal and he may have to fight to keep a spot in the rotation when the Bucs go south to Bradenton, Fla. , for Spring Training. He was another player the Bucs kept from going to arbitration with a one-year deal but this contract comes with very high risk. Which McDonald will be on the mound for Pittsburgh? There’s a chance he could start the year out of the bullpen and that is a heavy price to pay for a long reliever.

Jason Grilli RP – (1st Year of 2-YR Deal) $2,250,000 + $250,000 signing bonus – With the trade of Joel Hanrahan to the Red Sox, Grilli’s deal could mean a move to the role of closer. His high Strikeout numbers over his 10 years in the majors translate well to the Ninth inning, but his resurgence with the Bucs has come as a setup man. He has just 5 Career Saves, including three with the Pirates in 2011-12. He will have to be successful in whatever role he serves in 2013 to be worth the pay increase he will receive in the second year of the contract ($4.25 Million in 2014).

Jeff Karstens SP/RP– (1-YR Deal) $2,500,000 – It was an interesting winter for Karstens, who was not tendered a contract by the Pirates following the 2012 season. The oft-injured starter was then re-signed after Pittsburgh’s Free-Agent addition Francisco Liriano broke his non-throwing arm in December as insurance. After throwing a career-high 162.1 Innings two years ago, Karstens was limited to just 90.2 IP last season but his numbers suggest a bargain – with a 3.59 ERA in 2011-12. The Pirates have lots of choices for the rotation if everyone is healthy, so if Karstens is pushed to the bullpen, he becomes a high-priced long reliever.

Charlie Morton SP – (1-YR Deal) $2,000,000 – Morton will likely be out of the lineup until the All-Star Break after Tommy John surgery and highly-touted Gerrit Cole might also be joining the big-league club around that time. With his spot in the starting rotation in jeopardy, the Pirates are hoping Morton can return to his 2011 form, when he won 10 games and posted a 3.83 ERA in 171.2 Innings Pitched.

Gaby Sanchez 1B – (1-YR Deal) $1,750,000 – Sanchez has shown some power in the past with the Marlins, but he will be hard-pressed to make the Bucs’ starting lineup on a regular basis. There is very little risk at that price with the 29-Year-Old First Baseman.

Jose Tabata OF – (3rd Year of 6-YR Deal) $1,000,000 + $166,667 signing bonus – So much for Tabata being part of the solution for the Pirates returning to the top of the standings. When he signed a 6 YR deal back in 2011, Pittsburgh was locking up another promising player through 2016 to give the franchise some stability. Instead, Tabata’s Batting Average dipped from .299 as a rookie – to .243 last season. Interestingly enough, the contract includes a club option from 2017-19 so if Tabata can improve into an everyday Outfielder, this deal could end up being a steal for the Pirates.

Pedro Alvarez 3B – (Club Option) $700,000 – Late in 2008, the Pirates and Alvarez agreed to a revised four-year deal that ended in 2012. Included in that contract were club options in 2013 and 2014. Because it took until last year for Alvarez to solidify a spot in the majors, he is not arbitration-eligible and the Pirates are only paying him $700K. Talk about a return on investment. Alvarez accounted for just over one percent of the Bucs’ payroll in 2012 and supplied about 13 percent of the team’s offensive production.

The total cost to the Pirates for these 14 players is about $55 Million. There is a Two-Year Deal with pitcher Francisco Liriano worth $12.75 Million – that is not yet official – and the Bucs have also agreed to a Minor League Deal with Free-Agent hurler Jonathan Sanchez. If both players end up signed, which the Pirates say they want to do for rotation depth, it is likely to add another $9-$10 Million, which brings the total closer to $65 Million.

Travis Snider can prove to be a good value for the Bucs budget if he can be productive as an OF with his salary.

Travis Snider can prove to be a good value for the Bucs budget if he can be productive as an OF with his salary.

PRE-ARBITRATION ELIGIBLE PLAYERS (Amounts are 2012 contracts)

Mark Melancon RP– $521,000 (Arbitration Eligble in 2014) – The most Major League-ready of the players received in the Hanrahan deal, he has done well in the National League with the Astros, but performed poorly for the Red Sox in 2012.

Chris Leroux RP – $486,000 (Arbitration Eligible in 2014) – Leroux should make the club out of Spring Training in the bullpen as he is out of options and would have to clear waivers. He has struck out 40 batters in 41 innings over three seasons with the Bucs.

Michael McKenry C – $485,000 (Arbitration Eligible in 2015) – McKenry will serve as the Pirates’ backup catcher after splitting time with Rod Barajas as a starter in 2012. He has shown some pop, hitting 12 HRsin 240 At-Bats last season.

Alex Presley OF – $484,000 (Arbitration Eligible in 2015) – Presley was a nice second-half call-up in 2011, hitting almost .300 but that average dipped to .237 last year in his first full season in the Majors. He looks like a backup Outfielder at best in 2013.

Josh Harrison UT – $484,000 (Arbitration Eligible in 2015) – A backup at three infield positions as well as a spot starter in the Outfield in 2011-12, Harrison will again take one of the bench spots for the Pirates.

Tony Watson RP – $484,000 (Arbitration Eligible in 2015) – Watson has done a serviceable job for the Pirates as one of the only Lefties in the bullpen over the past two seasons. He has averaged just under a strikeout per inning and has a career 3.63 ERA in 111 appearances.

Jared Hughes RP – $481,000 (Arbitration Eligible in 2015) – A 4th-round pick in 2006, Hughes had a breakout season in 2012. He appeared in 66 games, posted a 2.85 ERA and became one of Manager Clint Hurdle‘s go-to guys in the bullpen.

Jeff Locke SP – $480,000 (Arbitration Eligible in 2016) – Locke has struggled in 10 starts over the past two seasons but heads into 2013 competing for the fifth spot. The signings of Liriano and Sanchez prove the Pirates may not have enough faith in the 25-year-old lefty.

Travis Snider OF – $480,000 (Arbitration Eligible in 2014) – Snider may have the early edge on the starting right field position for the Pirates, but there are other options should he be unable to produce. A career .248 hitter, this is Snider’s first chance at playing every day.

Bryan Morris RP – $480,000 (Arbitration Eligible in 2016) – Morris may have just five Innings on his professional resume, but he has a blazing fastball and the converted starter has transitioned well. He has potential closer written all over him and may get the chance in 2013.

Starling Marte RP – $480,000 (Arbitration Eligible in 2016) – After seeing his first major-league action in 2012, Marte went on to show upgraded power in winter ball and is keeping former can’t-miss prospect Jose Tabata on the bench. Left field is Marte’s job to lose in spring training and could be one player the Pirates target for a long-term deal in the near future.

Kyle McPherson  RP $480,000 (Arbitration Eligible in 2016) – Another candidate for the Fifth-Starter job, McPherson was a late-season call-up in 2012 and performed admirably – both in three starts and out of the bullpen.

The rest of the Pirates’ opening-day roster could be made up of Pre-Arbitration Eligible players, so add another $5-6 Million to the approximate payroll, putting it around a maximum of $70 Million – but more likely in the $60-$65 Million range. When the opening-day payrolls are released, you could see a number in the upper 70s or low 80s, but that will include the $13.5 Million being paid to Burnett and Rodriguez from other clubs.

Pittsburgh has been active over the past month, and could increase payroll even more by adding non-roster invitees Brad Hawpe, Felix Pie, Vin Mazzaro, Jeanmar Gomez, Kyle Waldrop, Liriano and Sanchez to the squad. This is a change from years past, when it seemed the Pirates were satisfied to head into the season with as few moves as possible. It’s easy to see things have changed in the Pirates’ approach to building a franchise capable of a winning season, but it is also obvious the team cannot afford a setback in 2013 after competing for most of 2012.


Right now, the Pirates have only 6 players signed for 2014 for a total of about $31 Million, which includes the unofficial deal for Liriano – and a second club-option for Alvarez. There is also the strong possibility of the Pirates picking up the option on Rodriguez to give them seven players.  Past that, just McCutchen and Tabata are signed, which gives Pittsburgh some flexibility in what players they feel will help them continue to build and also allow for possible long-term contracts with Alvarez, Marte and Walker.

McCutchen is signed for about an average of 8.5 Million Dollars a year until he hits FA in 2018.  If he can be amongst the running for NL MVP every year like 2012, this will bode well for the Pirates value in his salary.

McCutchen is signed for about an average of 8.5 Million Dollars a year until he hits FA in 2018. If he can be amongst the running for NL MVP every year like 2012, this will bode well for the Pirates value in his salary.

*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com or their partners.***

Brad Cuprik is longing for a return to the postseason for his beloved Pittsburgh Pirates, but enjoys watching any team and any level of baseball. He grew up idolizing Cal Ripken and played shortstop through the NCAA Division III level. While working on two different baseball book projects, he earned his MBA at Robert Morris University, but wishes he could have majored in baseball history. Brad’s dream is to cover the Pirates as a beat writer, but is making ends meet as a retail manager for now. If you want to talk about the greatest game, whether present or past, or e-mail him at bcuprik77@hotmail.com.  You can also follow and Interact with Brad on Twitter  

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Posted on February 8, 2013, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Pirates Payroll In 2013 And Contracts Going Forward.

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