First Pitch: How Much Did the Pirates’ Payroll Increase in 2014?

Today I updated the 2014 40-man roster and payroll page, adding all of the moves from the September call-ups. Typically, these are the final moves that need to be added to get a payroll estimate for the year. There’s a chance that the Pirates could call up more players, or acquire help for the stretch in September via a waiver claim, but that wouldn’t lead to a massive increase. When it comes to a payroll range for the season, we now have our estimate.

The current estimate is $79,380,740. That number isn’t official, and can sometimes be off by anywhere from $1-5 M. Last year’s estimate was the closest we’ve gotten, with the estimate at $74.46 M, and the actual payroll at $75 M.

This year the Opening Day payroll started at just under $75 M. That means they added a little over $4 M during the season. Most of these expenses were on waiver claims and roster moves, such as promotions and demotions for depth purposes. The biggest individual expense was John Axford, who will cost the Pirates a little over $1.1 M. (UPDATE: I forgot about Ike Davis, who was added a few weeks into the season. Davis added just over $3 M, although the overall hit was a little less than that when you consider that he replaced someone making the league minimum.) Ernesto Frieri would count, although that trade actually saved the Pirates a small amount of money, since it sent Jason Grilli’s salary away.

Overall, the projections show an increase over the 2013 end-of-year totals. It’s not a massive difference, and definitely not the difference that a lot of Pirates’ fans wanted to see. With the new revenue coming into MLB, the expectation was that payroll would see a massive boost, combined with an increase in ticket sales and a trip to the playoffs last year. The new revenue didn’t actually see a massive increase in spending around the league, as the average Opening Day payroll saw an $8.5 M increase.

The Pirates definitely had extra money to spend this year. They offered A.J. Burnett $12 M, made a run at James Loney, and tried to deal for guys like David Price, Jon Lester, and others at the deadline. That money would still be there to spend next season, which means they should be able to go after Russell Martin if the price isn’t ridiculous (aka, if a team like the Dodgers doesn’t step in and try to sign Martin at any price).

Links and Notes

**Morning Report: Best OPS Doesn’t Always Equal Best Prospect

**2014 40-Man Payroll Projection

  • As for the payroll, IMO there are a couple of different ways to look at it. From a fans perspective I would like to see a team that can compete for as little as the team can spend on it. So as far as I am concerned if they can be a winning team and spend 20mil I am all for it, where ever that line of spending and producing a winner is, I am for it. Overspending leads to ridiculous contracts, inability for small revenue teams to hold onto big talents and raised ticket prices, With the guaranteed contracts players have now, getting a pig in a poke is a common thing. Look at the Rockies, stuck with 2 players that they owe 150mil to, may I ask where are they in the standings with all of their spending? I believe that the guaranteed contracts are one of the biggest problems with payroll in MLB, if a 100mil pitcher goes down with Tommy John surgery in week one, you pay him for a year of no service, the owner has to add that money to the total deal, so if a player has a four year contract for a hundred mil and only plays 3 years that changes his contract from 25mil a year to 33mil a year as far as the owners payroll is concerned, on top of that the owner has to hope the player can produce like a 25mil a year player.
    So much talk about Martin having to be signed and affordable, but no real understanding of both sides of this issue, mostly I want him, we have to have him at any cost. Believe me there is an owner out there with that mentality and that guy is going to end up with Martin. If Martin signs anywhere for more than 3 years and the Pirates don’t sign him, the other team made a bad deal.

    • What is the issue with guaranteed contracts, they are the product of a strong player’s union and I have no issue with players receiving a significant portion of the revenue that they generate. Pitcher injury rates are well known, teams understand the risk but if you want to sign an ace in free agency that is the cost.

      And the Rockies aren’t stuck with Tulowitzki if they wanted to trade him every team would inquire about the price.

      • The strong players union is the reason baseball is the mess it is today.

        • Yeah collusion was great, wasn’t it.

          • When the players unite it is called a Union, when the owners unite it is called collusion, society is warped and believes what it wants to. The price of your ticket includes paying for players that might not even play this year, sorry, I come from a belief that if you don’t play you don’t get paid. I belong to a Union and If I did not work, I did not get paid.

            • “Yes you right ..BUT i’m sure your employer “build or leased your place of “employment” it did not depend on the taxpayers to “bail them out” I could “almost GUARANTEED that their profits are “not” 25 % of revenues” like our bucs are schedule to earn this year..but we could not spend to fix the problems..

            • Collusion implies impropriety, what is warped is violating a contract that one previously agreed too. Those entire episodes with arbitrators awarding damages to players and in the final instance $280 million attests to that.

              Revenue is going to primarily either the players or owners, I don’t think the breakdown is ideal and there could be improvements in baseball overalls structure, but both sides have negotiated in good faith multiple times and this the agreement upon which both sides have agreed. If either side has a grievance, negotiate it differently next time the collective bargaining agreement comes up.

              I just find it odd to argue that millionaires are receiving too much money and that money should go back to billionaires.

              • How about lowering ticket prices and returning money to the thousandaires?

                • I’m with you there, but as long as people keep paying and showing up, the prices will remain.

                  • Pirates ticket prices are among the lowest in all of baseball and, in fact, all of the major pro sports. Pittsburgh fans have gotten used to that and I suspect that raising ticket prices dramatically– as would be necessary to dramatically increase payroll– would result in a drop in attendance even with the team winning.

                    I’m very proud of Pittsburgh, but face it: we can be a cheap and whiny lot. I remember all the complaints about not being able to park withing vomiting distance of the new park and the absolute uproar when they stopped letting you cart your own full refrigerator into the stadium.

                • Why shouldn’t MLB owners charge what people are willing to pay? If fans are willing to pay an average of $50 per fan per game, then that is the logical amount for owners to charge.

              • in this age of “high revenues” that is what is has happened .the % of $ payed to the player has declined as a % of revenues..I’m sure in the next “CBA” they will address that..also “IMHO” all teams should spend a certain % of revenues..It’s not fair for a team that has 200 mill in revenues to have a payroll under 40 mill..while they “back up the Brinks trucks” to the bank..and play a team of “AA, AAA, 4A players

        • Let me get this right. You are saying that ALL of the economic issues ( that you consider ) wrong in baseball today are the fault of the players and their union ? You can NOT be taken seriously if that is what you think.

          • No, not “All” just the biggest reason, the subject of “All” that is wrong with baseball goes a lot further than the players and the players Union.

        • Mess..owners r walking away with record profits..revenues have double sinse 2009?..7.5 billion in 2013..8.5 billion in 2014 (projected)”In 1995, MLB revenues were $1.4 billion, or over $2.2 billion when accounting for inflation. Since that time, gross revenues for the league have grown a staggering 264 percent in 18 years.”

        • at this time I”M for the UNION” forcing the owners to spend a 60 to 60 % of revenues on players salaries..for example Astros made 155 mill revenue and had a payroll of 22 mill and a profit of 55 mill, “Come on” you pay to see a “MLB” club” both of them home and visitor..not a “minor league club”

          • A floor and a ceiling is what you are referring to Will ? That is probably the best answer, but I don’t think that is in the cards myself.

      • This actually isn’t true. In the early days of free agency it was the owners’ idea to give out guaranteed contracts as a way to entice potential free agents. The owners, even with free agency, could have kept control but they spited themselves.

        • Just like dealing when you buy a car. The car industry started the discounting and now they can’t stop. The owners only pay what they can afford. If an owner goes belly up, there’s a line out the door to buy the franchise. Unions keep their employer honest. Most owners are making money they can’t fold.

    • why “compete for 20 mill” while the “OWNERS” would make a “70 mill” profit..let them spend the $ and give us a “WS”..

  • I don’t see the “they were willing to spend more but just couldn’t complete the deals” point made nearly enough. People just see the tiny increase from last year (and get mad) and don’t think about the players who they almost got and where it would have got them money wise. And if they DO think about who they almost got they grumble about PR conspiracies. Thanks, Madden.

    It is obvious that nutting has approved a payroll of around 95 mil. I fully expect it to be around there next season.

    • 95 mil. That could mean keeping Martin and getting a top of the line pitcher. There’s going to be a lot of arbitration next year. I’m sure Tim will have an article about arbitration. Those posts are always very informative.

    • With me, it’s not all about how much they did or didn’t spend. It’s the thought process behind the decisions to not spend (or trade), specifically as it pertains to lack of contingency plans at start of the season. Opening the year with a rotation that included Wandy and Volquez was simply too big a risk for a contender to take. They needed another decent starter (not necessarily an ace) from the get-go. Taillon wasn’t going to help the team early, so the FO’s thinking was incredibly flawed.

      • They tried, you are wrong.

        • ? how did they tried? did they offer Byrd contract NO.. we had a problem at 1b ..did they offer MORNEU an contract…NO…did they GIVE away GFJ away for nothing YES..DID THEY LET EVERYONE KNOW THAT WE WOULD NOT “PAY FULL VALUE TO ANYONE”…YES so is simple UNLESS YOU R DYING “DON”T come to the BURG…relationships are important..A.J got us Martin ..Liriano go us Volquez..and now what?..all of them gone?.7 years of NEAL..and really all we got is what he “DIDN’T TRADE AWAY” or what other teams were willing to “PAY their salary” otherwise we would be fighting with the Cubs for the “BASEMENT”

          • They addressed 1b. Ike Davis had just a high a chance of working as Morneau did.

            And come on. GFJ isn’t what he used to be.

            Ya sure if they let everyone leave and don’t replace them, then yeah they will be bad. But that probably won’t happen.

            • but Morneau would had not “cost us 2 prospects” An Inteligent Gm stocks up during the off season and “sells” high during the reg season the Mets have done to the Bucs for the past 4 prospects for their “spare parts” ..

              • 20/20 hindsight on Morneau there. I doubt anybody thought the Rockies were gonna get the MVP version of Morneau that showed up this season when they signed him– or else they would have had to pay more. They took a chance and it worked out quite well. Good for them and him.

          • Next try, along with getting a bit more informed, try learning how to use your keyboard or phone.

          • Morneau sucked in Pittsburgh he had 3 rbi’s & his #’s this year are inflated by playing in Colorado. We didn’t need Byrd for 3 years. Then you easily forgot that they outbid the Yankees for Martin. By the way Jones sucked last year also. Won’t pay full value (2 years plus an option for AJ) thank god their not willing to sign those stupid contracts. That’s how you end up paying players like Wandy to stay home. Not to mention the Cubs are not even in the rear view mirror.

        • There is do or don’t do. There is no try.

      • Volquez was a risk, but 11 – 7, 3.31 ERA and leads the club in starts and innings pitched at 166 means he was a solid add. He became our #2/3 SP, and if we would have gotten as much from Morton, we would be patting ourselves on our backs right now for signing him for 3 years and $21 mil. We hoped to get a #5/6 out of EV and struck it rich for only $5 mil! We missed out on being able to pay AJ $16 mil in 2014, and his 2015 contract is locked into starts, and he will probably max out for another bundle that Philly can ill-afford when they need to be rebuilding. Detroit and Oakland spent big and so far, have gotten limited overall benefit. The Cards are playing better due to the return of Molina and Wacha, but, IMO, Lackey for Kelly then Masterson from Cleveland have been an overall no improvement. Sometimes the best move is the one you do not make.

        • then again …he could turn out to be another “WANDY”., MC Donald,(and all the others that produced for 1/2 a season or so) hoping that the upside would be worth the investment..”but you get what you pay for” ETC

        • I think you’re misreading my intent. I don’t have any issue with Volquez at this point. He makes my playoff rotation. Great signing. But that wasn’t really the case back in April/May. Volquez looked pretty iffy and Wandy was a complete breakdown waiting to happen. My issue was having two big question marks in the rotation (in addition to Morton) for a team labeled a contender.

    • I don’t see anything that makes approved payroll around 95 mil, there are too many variables too arrive at any conclusions.

  • The Pirates did what they could to add some depth for the stretch run without selling the Farm, and $79 mil is probably the lowest team salary of any of the teams competing for the NL Playoff spots. They will start the off-season at least $13 mil less due to the salary of Wandy Rodriguez, $8 mil less for Francisco Liriano, $2 mil for Barmes, and then there are the considerations related to whether we will want to keep Frieri, Axford, Davis, and/or Volquez. Another big question is whether Charlie Morton will be able to pitch in 2015, and that will have a lot of bearing on how they approach Edinson Volquez, who has been as good as any of our SP’s in 2014 and is closing in on another season of 200 innings pitched.

    The fans are doing their part and could possibly push the Pirates to an average of 30,000 fans per game in 2014, which would mean 150,000 more fans than in 2013, which I think was our record for attendance at 2.257 mil. Each fan through the turnstiles means about $50 (?) of Revenue so probably a $5 mil bump in 2014, which does not sound like a lot except for when you compare attendance now to the pitiful efforts of 1.6 or 1.7 mil fans when this management team arrived. That also translates into a much better negotiating position for TV Revenue. After the results of the past two years, and the selection of 6 or 7 prospects in the Top 100, some entrepreneur could see this as a great opportunity for Ad Revenue. They are getting stronger followings in the tri-state, and, thanks to guys like Andrew McCutchen, they are a national drawing card.

    • Don’t forget the new revenue contract that’s adds 15-25 mill to each thats an increase in revenue from 170 mill in 2012 to 204 mill in 2013 to 220 or so in 2014..that’s a 50 mill revenue increase in 2 years ..(and by the way..did you ever “eat your hat” on our bet on “tony womack”

  • added a little over $4M – you left out most of that was Ike who made $3.5M

  • It’s going to be awkward seeing Martin in divisional Cubbie blue the next 4 or 5 years.

    • That’d be surprising. Wellington Castillo is decent and cheap. And their focus will surely be on the Lesters and Shields of the world. It could happen though. But more worried about Dodger blue.

      • Don’t cont the Rangers out either. Martin would be a great bridge to Jorge Alfaro for them.

        • Didn’t think about them. Hopefully the other bad contracts on their team will prevent that. But they definitely are a possible fit.

    • I know the Red Sox have Blake Swihart and Christian Vasquez, but they might be in the market for Martin as well.