I was going to write about Russell Martin tonight, and more specifically, how the Pittsburgh Pirates can easily afford Martin in the future. I detailed the short-term of this subject earlier in the week, noting that there is plenty of room on the 2015 payroll to sign Martin. But what about beyond that?
One thing that is going to help the Pirates keep their payroll low in future years will be their top ranked farm system. That system projects to graduate the following players over the next two years.
2015 – Jameson Taillon (RHP), Nick Kingham (RHP), Adrian Sampson (RHP), Alen Hanson (2B)
2016 – Tyler Glasnow (RHP), Josh Bell (1B)
The Pirates already have some young players on their current roster who have graduated to the majors recently. A quick look at a possible 2017 Opening Day lineup shows that they could have a very young core if a lot of the above options work out. And for the purposes of getting an idea of how they could afford Martin, let’s include him in this projection.
C – Russell Martin
1B – Josh Bell
2B – Alen Hanson
SS – Jordy Mercer
3B – Josh Harrison
LF – Starling Marte
CF – Andrew McCutchen
RF – Gregory Polanco
SP – Gerrit Cole
SP – Tyler Glasnow
SP – Jameson Taillon
SP – Nick Kingham
SP – Adrian Sampson/Vance Worley/Brandon Cumpton
Seven of those 12 positions (not counting the catching position) are league minimum guys. The guaranteed contracts are currently at $19 M, along with potential buyouts for Charlie Morton and/or Jose Tabata. The price would go up if Morton returned. The biggest unknown expenses would be Jordy Mercer’s second year of arbitration, Josh Harrison’s third year, and Gerrit Cole’s first year.
In my 2015 projection, the Pirates had $23 M in guaranteed money, which is about $2 M more than the 2017 estimate with the buyouts. The 2015 team also has huge arbitration raises at first base, second base, and a smaller case in the rotation. I currently have those positions projected to add another $19 M. That doesn’t include the fact that the Pirates would need two members of the rotation from free agency or a trade, which should boost the overall figure by at least $10-15 M.
Let’s just go conservative and say the total is an extra $10 M for the rotation. That puts the 2015 lineup and rotation at least to $52 M before the addition of Martin. That 2017 estimate has the Pirates at $20.25 M, along with those three arbitration raises to Mercer, Harrison, and Cole. And I highly doubt that those three arbitration prices will combine for $32 M.
In short, the Pirates have a lot of good talent coming up in the minors, and if most of that talent works out, they’ll be in a much better financial position to afford a big contract to Martin in future years, as opposed to the first year. So while the short-term estimates say that they can afford to add Martin, the long-term estimates show them easily being able to afford him.
The other Martin-related topic today was the Baltimore Orioles’ extension of J.J. Hardy. I heard about the news over Twitter, when someone asked me why the Pirates didn’t think of this to extend Martin before he reaches free agency.
The fact that Martin hasn’t signed an extension yet doesn’t mean that they haven’t approached him. Whether they have or not, it probably wouldn’t matter. In Martin’s first interview with the Pittsburgh media right after signing, he talked about how the Pirates offered him a third year, but he opted for two years, hoping to rebuild some value and get back on the free agent market quicker. He has definitely rebuilt his value. And if he was intending to re-enter the market two years ago, then there’s no reason for him to abandon that plan with two weeks to go.
I don’t know why Hardy signed his extension when he did. I don’t know the entire situation surrounding his stay with the Orioles, and what his intentions were. What I do know is that it makes total sense for the Pirates to try and get Martin to sign the same extension. But that “it takes two to make a deal” thing still applies, and Martin has been planning on free agency this off-season since the day he signed with the Pirates. This doesn’t seem like a Hardy situation. But that doesn’t mean the Pirates can’t try to go after him when he is a free agent. As shown above, they’ve got the money in the budget for the next few years.
Links and Notes