Pirates Projected to Have a 2016 Payroll Over $100 M Heading into the Off-Season

Today I finished putting together the 2016 40-man payroll page, which will be updated throughout the off-season, and in to the regular season. Bookmark that link, as I’ll be updating the chart after every move throughout the off-season. The chart provides an estimate  of the year-end 2016 payroll, which will definitely change throughout the off-season.

Right now the estimate is made up of three things. First we have the guaranteed salaries. Next are the projected arbitration increases. Finally there are the projected roster decisions. I didn’t include projected free agents, since that’s unpredictable. I mostly stuck with players who were out of options, or who didn’t play a huge role at the end of the season. There are some players who I have projected on the active roster who may end up off the 40-man roster at some point this off-season, but they were league minimum guys, so it didn’t make much of a difference. The non-tender focus was on arbitration eligible guys, since that had a bigger impact on payroll.

I projected a 25-man roster when making this payroll chart, although a few spots will change. The Pirates need a starting pitcher to replace A.J. Burnett. They need a left-handed reliever to replace Antonio Bastardo. Right now I’ve got league minimum guys in that role, meaning the payroll will go up when they bring in replacements. The payroll will also go down if they non-tender or trade some key players, which I’ll get into shortly.

One key disclaimer here is that I don’t know what the Pirates are receiving from the Dodgers for Michael Morse. I’ve seen a few figures floating around, but nothing that looks official, or makes sense (as those figures would have the Dodgers taking on salary to swap Morse for Jose Tabata). I’ve got that figure listed as a question mark, and it will drive the payroll down a bit.

The Pirates are currently projected for a $104,727,333 payroll in 2016. A lot can change with that figure. As an example, last year they had a projected $65,452,500 when I first made the chart around this time of year. The end of year payroll estimate was $101,914,526. They have been trending upward at the start of each year, and if that trend continues, then they’ll be able to start the year over $100 M as their projection suggests. However, they might find better ways to spend that money this off-season, and I’ll break down some of the key decisions below.

Pedro Alvarez

Pedro Alvarez had a great offensive year in 2012, which helped make him a 2.2 WAR player that season, and finally made Pirates fans comfortable with him for a short period of time. His offense in 2015 was almost identical to the 2012 season. However, his defense at first base was so horrible that he ended up being a replacement level player. The Pirates can’t afford to pay him $8.1 M and get that same value, and he showed no signs of improvement. They’ve got Josh Bell waiting in the wings, who has defensive issues of his own for now, and won’t be ready on Opening Day. As I mentioned above, they’ve got Michael Morse, and they’re receiving an unknown amount for him. If it was my call, I’d trade or non-tender Alvarez, then give Morse the job and hope he bounces back to 2014 form in the first half.

Neil Walker

Neil Walker isn’t a bad second base option. The Pirates could do better, or they could try to get similar production for a cheaper price. Walker is due $10.7 M through his arbitration estimate, and would be a free agent following the 2016 season. It’s unlikely that he would return beyond that, as the Pirates have Alen Hanson and Max Moroff in the upper levels of the minors. There aren’t many great options on the free agent market, and the best options will cost about the same as Walker and provide the same value. Unless there’s an option on the trade market that would be cheaper and provide the same or better production, then it would make sense to keep Walker around.

The Rotation

As noted above, the Pirates will need to add a starter to replace A.J. Burnett. They also have Charlie Morton making $8 M and Jeff Locke making $3.5 M. Both players are worth that amount based on their production, despite complaints about either pitcher. But if the Pirates opt to find another starting pitcher, in addition to Burnett’s replacement, then they could try and deal one of their two existing starters to clear some salary. I’d be surprised if that happens, especially with Tyler Glasnow and Jameson Taillon waiting in the wings. I think finding a depth option for Triple-A, like Clayton Richard or Vance Worley in previous years, is more likely.

The Bullpen

The Pirates have two of the best relievers in baseball in Mark Melancon and Tony Watson. Unfortunately, that combination is projected to cost about $15 M this year, with Melancon’s projected $10 M covering the bulk of that amount. The Pirates can afford a $100 M payroll or more, but it’s not a smart idea to commit roughly 10% of that amount on a reliever. That’s mostly because they’ve got a great track record of finding cheap relievers, and they’ve got the perfect replacement for Melancon in Watson. The Pirates traded Joel Hanrahan in a similar situation, in a move where they got Melancon. That was a different team, and it wasn’t coming off three straight playoff performances, so this could end up producing a different result. However, you could argue that they faced just as much pressure to contend the off-season after the 2012 collapse as this off-season, and probably have a bit more trust to work with, meaning they could very well have a repeat situation of trading their closer and going with a cheaper replacement.

In-Season Additions

The difference between the Opening Day payroll and the final payroll is always big. There’s no way to project all of the in-season moves, whether that comes in the form of trades, waiver claims, or the constant promotions and demotions from Triple-A. In previous years, the in-season figure has been anywhere from $6-11 M. Last season they added a bit over $10 M during the year, with the majority of that being trade deadline additions. The estimated number represents the Opening Day projections. You could probably add $5-10 M to that figure on Opening Day to guess what the final figure would be.

Accuracy

The estimated payroll is exactly that, an estimate. It doesn’t include every bonus, incentive, or exact salary figures for the league minimum guys. In the past, the estimate has been pretty accurate. The estimate in previous years has had a margin of error of $1.36 M on average.

Analysis

  • I love Melancon — he should be traded this offseason. Watson can close. Bring in a few more Searage guys and build another quality bullpen
    I like Pedro — I think he can still improve on defense. If they can get anything for him they should trade him this offseason, and start Morse at 1B. He hits both LHP and RHP and has been better over his career. He just has to hold down 1B until Bell is ready.
    I like Walker — they should trade him this off-season. They can start Moroff or Hansen for two months until Kang is back, and then Harrison can shift over to 2B.
    So, even not counting the guys you might get back from those trades, you are better at 1B, downgrade at 2B for a few months, and have holes to fill in the pen. And you have saved almost $30M, which can be spent on pitching, some bench depth, and pitching.

  • A have a bit of issue stating that Locke and Morton are worth their production. When Locke has an Runs Allowed/9 WAR of -0.2 and Baseball Reference WAR of -0.6 and Morton values are -0.6 and -0.7 retrospectively they weren’t worth their contracts.

    Looking ahead what matters is what they are projected to do, and given the cost of a win having both around isn’t an issue. However I think the Pirates should target a middle tier starter and another buy low, turn around candidate, or depending on your focus on payroll dumpster diver, pitcher this off-season.

    I really like Melancon, he is one of the five best relievers in the game over the last three seasons, and while he has the ideal combination of ground balls, few walks, and strikeouts (less so this year), spend money on the areas where the return is less volatile.

    • The Joel Hanrahan argument, as it is presented on the site, seems a bit disingenuous to me because it conveniently leaves out the fact that not only was Hanrahan going into a contract year making roughly 10% of the payroll, he was also in steep decline and just not a very good reliever in 2012.

      • My full thoughts on Hanrahan can be found in the off-season preview.

      • The Hanrahan argument is application of the idea that bullpens are volatile, put your resources elsewhere. Hanrahan was also the type of reviler that is the most volatile hard thrower, spotty command, and fly balls.

        Melancon has a FIP almost a run higher that his previous two seasons, his velocity came back but he never got the same swing and misses on his curve ball. Maybe his cutter is Rivera like. I’d like to see him back, but $10 million for a reliever gives me pause.

  • If you define “success” as getting to a postseason game then Huntington has done ok. I define it as getting to – and hopefully wining the World Series.

    And the price of fielding a competitive team keeps going up. Back in 2013 $100M seemed about right – the median payroll was around $95M.

    For 2015 the median payroll was just under $120M. The Bucs – depending again on the Morse money were 24th or 25th at a bit under $100M.

    The 2016 number will be something OVER $120M

    The $20M++ difference between Tim’s estimate and the median spent wisely should make the Bucs WS contenders.

    • Just a little digging regarding the ten playoff teams from each of the last three seasons:

      2013:

      3 were in the bottom half of spending, 7 were in the top half.
      1 bottom-half spender won their division, Oakland, the other two were wild cards

      2014:

      3 were in the bottom half of spending, 7 were in the top half.
      All bottom-half spenders went in as wild card teams.

      2015:

      2 were in the bottom half of spending, 8 were in the top half.
      All bottom-half spenders went in as wild card teams.

      Yes, the Pirates are a well-run team that has made many more good decisions than poor…and that’s reflected by the fact that they’re the only bottom-half spender to make the postseason in each of the last three years. However, being in the top half does have it’s advantages…there you’ve got, basically, a 50% chance for post-season play, when you’re a low-spender, it falls to about 18%.

  • We all know, or should know, what’s going to be done. It’s what NH has done all along and we can’t argue with his success. He will attempt to sign Polanco to a team friendly extension. He will try to trade Pedro. If he can’t he’ll non-tender him. Melancon is gone, as well as all the free agents with the exception of maybe Happ if he can be had for a decent price. He will add one or two reclamation projects (pitchers) as well as a few value relievers. It’s all about the numbers and value in relation to the numbers. Those that are too expensive to justify their numbers are gone. No player will exceed around 15% of total salary and no reliever will exceed 6% or so. Total dollars going into the season will not exceed $95M.

  • I agree on Morse at 1B. Keep Walker at least until Kang returns at full strength and then perhaps trade him at the 2016 deadline. JHAY plays 3rd until Kang’s return, then moves to second if the Pirates can move Neil. Pedro’s defensive play at 1B really isn’t explainable in any satisfactory way.

    • The time to shuffle the deck is the offseason. They won’t deal Walker or any other key while they are contending nor should they. This team needs tweaks with the main focus being defense. I would move on from Alvarez, hopefully through some sort of trade. Maybe he has reestablished some value to an AL team. I would be open to moving Walker as well.

      This team had a great year and they should remain good. But the Cardinals and Cubs are going to get better and that should raise the bar for our front office.

      • Sorry – the teams that had great years are still playing☹

        • That may be factually correct, but it’s pure stupidity. Pirates had a great year. The best since 1909. Losing in playoffs because MLB has a flawed system to identify best teams in post-season doesn’t change that fact.

          • To wit, the home teams (that is, the ones with the better overall records and all) have a 3-7 record in these playoffs. Toronto is facing elimination, and KC, STL and LA have lost home field advantage.

            It’s never been more of a crap shoot than it is right now.

          • Nice civil response would be appreciated …

            And in YOUR OPINION the system is flawed – and you are entitled to your opinion..

            My OPINION is to be great a season needs to end in the WS…

            • Scott Kliesen
              October 11, 2015 9:20 pm

              98-64 is a great year. Sorry if I upset you. I could’ve and should’ve chosen my words more tactfully Bruce.

  • This has the potential to be a very interesting off-season. Hopefully the big acquisition isn’t an SRod type player. There are a fair amount of FA’s/trade targets out there who can upgrade the team at an affordable cost.

    Happ, sure, but…

    If you’re thinking Mat Latos, I’d say he’s probably going to be the next McCarthy…maybe not in terms of performance, but contract..however,

    According to everything I’ve read, the Padres are dying to give Shields away. If they kick in a little money, he’d look fine behind Cole/Frankie. It’s a slight high-risk move, but you’re talking about a guy who can chew 200+ innings with a FIP under 4.00.

    The Mets might not offer a QO to Murphy. He might be able to be got for 3/30…which is far cheaper than a Walker extension.

    Dillon Gee would be a better reclamation project than many out there…and he’s available.

    With talent in the wings, there are also some solid gambles the team could make if they’re willing to step out of the bottom-tier in spending.

    • I would rather see them sign Happ then focus on bringing up Taillon, Kingham, Cumpton or Glasgow (whoever is ready) at midseason at the first injury.

      • I agree, but I doubt that either Kingham or Cumpton will be ready to even seriously begin rehab until May or June. Taillon should be up in Jun and Glasnow should be very close by then also. If Happ is added, then Morton and Locke become expendable as Rotation pieces as Taillon and another AAA pitcher are brought up.

  • Let’s talk numbers. Per Forbes MLB team valuation reports: The Pirates had $229 M in revenue and $43 M in profit in 2014. It’s a no brainer that revenue went up in 2015. Therefore, there is enough money to retain everyone and add a free agent starting pitcher (Happ) and a couple of bullpen guys (Bastardo & Blanton).

    • How much did revenue go up in ’15? How about costs? Did they rise as much or more than revenue? How much profit does the team need to generate to retire its debt on schedule? Without knowing the answers to these questions, it is absolutely impossible to come to the conclusion that “therefore, there is enough money to retain everyone and add…”

      I’m glad you don’t do my taxes.

      • If you can’t afford to own a team – sell it to someone who can

        $120M is the new $100M ⚾️

        • If Nutting had more money he would have bought a more expensive franchise.

        • Thanks but I’ll take a smart frugal owner over a stupid owner w a willingness to spend any amount.

          • So, the smart thing to say now is “Trade Melancon ” cause his arbitration figure is high. Right? Becomes a much more difficult conversation when guys like Cole and possibly Polanco are submitting 15-20 million dollar offers.

            I don’t like it when people rail on Nuttings wallet. I understood him not blowing money on a 90 loss team. But let’s see how he manages a 90 win team.

            • Scott Kliesen
              October 11, 2015 9:07 pm

              Well he had a 90 win team two years ago and he’s done a good job so far. What makes you think it’ll change for the worse now?

              • I just think they are at a cross roads. And I’m interested how they keep the team competitive. Good teams do not stay affordable. Ask the fans in Tampa and Oakland.

                • They do if they sell high and buy low. That’s why I see Melancon and Alvarez and possibly Walker being traded this winter. And most likely will part w Cutch when Meadows is ready, too.

                  Not saying I like it, just saying it’s how low income teams have to do business.

                  One possible way out of this cycle is the local TV deal. It’s the only realistic way Pirates make a major upgrade to their revenue stream.

                  • I think for at least a year they take a step back if they do an overhaul.

                    No idea what these AAA guys do. As NMR says below, its very risky to expect a lot out of those guys early on. Heck Marte and Polanco are still finding their way at the plate. And Hanson and Bell are just different defensively. Far from an improvement.

                    Thats why if they do trade the players you mentioned, I hope they get some ML talent in return. Travis Snider was one thing, I got that all along. But these other guys need to be handled properly.

                    Can NH do it again? Tough.

                    • You’re in a backhanded kind of way validating my point. It can be fairly expected the short-term loss of offensive productivity by moving on from Alvarez can be off-set by increased productivity from Polanco and Marte.

                      As for Melancon, the last time the Pirates shipped out a Closer they brought back MLB talent. Thus, they may indeed do the same again.

                      The point being, the Pirates have more options for both off-season and in-season trades and signings if they let the rich teams overpay for WAR. If they stick w Pedro, Melancon and Walker, their options to replace them due to injury or poor performance is severely hampered. And that for sure will result in the team being worse.

                    • I’ve been saying this a lot lately. You know who had a great year? Maybe even an outlier? Was Huntington. That man has found a lot of value, and pushed the right buttons. Guys like me have not given him enough credit. But just like Ballplayers, I think front office types can be susceptible to regression to the norm.

                      We’ll see man. Great points, btw.

                    • I was surprised to find this, but Morse has been a consistently better player than Alvarez. He hits lefties and righties. I do like Pedro, and I think he might figure out first base defense, but removing him is probably a wash, not a downgrade, and possibly an upgrade.

                    • I like him too. I just think it would be best for him and Pirates for him to be traded to an AL team. Clearly Bell is the 1B of the team by June.

  • I would not pay Decker, Floriman & LaF half a million dollars
    each to keep on the 40 man roster. And no one has mentioned
    what they will do with Lambo.

    • Any word on Lambo’s health?

      • I am not sure his health matters at this point. I think you have some time to decide on him – say early spring training – but Broxton is probably a better OF option and they are “stuck” with Morse for next year.

        I am hoping they make a run at the Korean 1st baseman – he will cost more than Kang – but the power could be worth it

        • Don’t hold your breath. Bell will be 1B for Pirates next season (June) and he will be better than your choice, too.

          • I will LOVE watching Bell,struggle defensively (punish the Pedro haters) and I think the over and under for next years first base options if they don’t sign Park is around 10

            • Scott Kliesen
              October 11, 2015 9:12 pm

              I assume you mean HR’s. If that is the litmus test you’re using for a players offensive value, than you’re a decade behind the times. OPS and WAR are where it’s at now.

              As for his defense, I’ll believe it when I see it that he’s worse than Pedro.

  • What kind of return could be expected for Melancon?

  • While I understand the sentiment to move on from Walker and/or Alvarez, a team that’s already near the bottom of ISO is going to struggle to replace their power numbers. At least initially.

    Fascinating offseason ahead.

    • Polanco’s ISO may go up if he levels his swing more consistently. Kang if healthy contributes to ISO. Morse could return to power hitting, it is a contract year for him. So maybe it’s not as dire as it seems.

      • Does anybody think that either Walker or Alvarez will be signed as Free Agents beyond 2016? I think that answer would be a resounding NO, so if they can get a decent deal made during this off-season, it would be the thing to do. It may hurt the team in 2016, but we will be moving on either now or later, and I think the sooner we make those moves the better we will be in the long run.

        • And remember you do get something in return for either one once you deal them. I think you can expect something decent for both at this point. Pedro had an OPS+ of 113, a 1.5 oWAR, and a .227 ISO. Offensively, for comparison sake, Prince Fielder had a .158 ISO, a 2.5 oWAR, and a 126 OPS+…Kendrys Morales, had a 128 OPS+, a 2.7 oWAR, and a .195 ISO. Pedro isn’t quite, offensively, on the level of Morales or Fielder…but he also plays in a different league (most would argue a less offensive league) and also does not have the advantage of being able to only hit. He has a higher ISO than both of those players (who have been really productive DH’s for their teams). I think you could expect to get a player, plus the salary relief from an AL team for Pedro to DH.

          I think the Pirates, if they traded Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez could actually, potentially, fill a back-end of the rotation starter spot, get a decent prospect, and get the salary relief. Walker’s offensive numbers are even better for a second baseman.

          • Again, I understand the sentiment to move those guys. I just look at it, in a similar way Tim looks at the bitching about Locke and Morton – you won a lot of games with them. No guarantees anything brought back in a deal produces better. Hanson, Bell, Glasnow, Taillon, Kingham? Still young players at the end of the day.

            Better the devil you know, sometimes.

          • Prince Fielder and Kendrys Morales produced twice as many batting runs this season, 19.0, and 23.0 as Pedro Alvarez has in any of his seasons. They don’t need platooned.

            Also there is a DH penalty, hitter hit about 5% worse when DH as opposed to playing the field.

            I have no problem trading Alvarez I just think you are making him out to be more of an asset than he is.

        • Agreed, but Kang injury combined with Hanson’s notorious slow starts combined with Super Two rules means Walker almost certainly will be opening day 2B.

        • I could agree with you if they weren’t a man down with Kang’s injury.

  • $100M opening day payroll is a total most thought was never going to be spent…so, it’s a nice moral win, but they’ll still be in the bottom quarter of spending. T’would be nice to jump to the middle of the pack.

    • Increasing payroll for the sake of reaching some arbitrary figure or ranking in relation to the competition will not necessarily correlate in more wins. The Pirates have shown the ability to identify skill sets in low salary players which have resulted in them being a highly successful team. To think they will deviate from this plan because some fans and media want them to is wishful thinking.

      Player salaries are fun to talk about, but it’s not nearly as important as some think.

      • I agree. But they’re far from irrelevant. The team has gotten where it is for the reasons you’ve stated. However, buying the additional talent is probably going to be necessary to get the team further into the post-season.

        • Scott Kliesen
          October 11, 2015 3:21 pm

          What exactly do they need to get further in playoffs? Angels w Trout, Tigers w Miggy and Dodgers w Kershaw, arguably the 3 best players in MLB have resulted in 0 titles.

          They need more luck than additional high $$$ players to win in October.

          • I’m not arguing that a title can be bought, nor that the success the Pirates have had wasn’t because of a solid plan. But with greater tools, the Pirates would be more likely to get deeper into the playoffs.

            So, what exactly do they need? Well, obviously, not Pedro Alvarez. Heck, Morse had a higher WAR in less that 100 PAs than Pedro had in almost 500. It wasn’t as if the team went into 2015 not knowing this was coming.

            Deeper starting pitching would be a help. It’s out there for a price. I know, the common refrain is: “Glasnow and Taillon are coming!” And? Will they pan out? Who knows? How long will it take for them to be contributors? Again, who knows?

            Sure, free agency can be a crapshoot, but it doesn’t hurt to hedge your bets by putting money down to address needs.

          • I’m not arguing that a title can be bought, nor that the success the Pirates have had wasn’t because of a solid plan. But with greater tools, the Pirates would be more likely to get deeper into the playoffs.

            So, what exactly do they need? Well, obviously, not Pedro Alvarez. Heck, Morse had a higher WAR in less that 100 PAs than Pedro had in almost 500. It wasn’t as if the team went into 2015 not knowing this was coming.

            Deeper starting pitching would be a help. It’s out there for a price. I know, the common refrain is: “Glasnow and Taillon are coming!” And? Will they pan out? Who knows? How long will it take for them to be contributors? Again, who knows?

            Sure, free agency can be a crapshoot, but it doesn’t hurt to hedge your bets by putting money down to address needs.

            • No team is perfect. Whichever team wins WS will have overcome shortcomings on roster to do so.

              The Pirates have had 2nd or 3rd best record in MLB over last 3 years. It’s not a lack of skill compared to other teams why that hasn’t manifested in more October victories. Having to face Wainwright, MadBum & Jake at their best is the real reason.

              • I would agree to a degree.

                But it stands that, if you’re in the top half of spending…you’re almost three times more likely to make the playoffs.

                Off the top of my head, outside of the bullpen, the Pirates only made one move in the last off-season to make them a better club…and that was the risky (and damned awesome) Kang signing.

                Burnett wasn’t signed and Cervelli traded for to make the club better, they were picked up to fill the holes left by Martin and Volquez.

                You’re absolutely right that every team is going to have roster shortcomings…heck, STL lost Wainwright for, virtually, all of this season. And, yes, the Pirates lost because they’re not built to win one game. The easiest way to make sure you’re not in an elimination situation is to win the division.

                It sucks to win so many and still be fighting to host a WC game, but the Cubs aren’t going away any time soon, and the Cards are the Cards…they’re well funded and extremely well run. If the Pirates are going to contend with that two-headed monster, simply finding a new reclamation project or hoping Pedro finally figures it out isn’t going to cut it.

                The Pirates have reached a point where, to get over the hump, they’re going to have to overpay for talent. If they have to pay an extra $25M for three wins…okay. Had they done that this year, St. Louis hosted Chicago in the WC game and the Pirates still would’ve had a payroll almost $10M less than both of those clubs.

              • I would agree to a degree.

                But it stands that, if you’re in the top half of spending…you’re almost three times more likely to make the playoffs.

                Off the top of my head, outside of the bullpen, the Pirates only made one move in the last off-season to make them a better club…and that was the risky (and damned awesome) Kang signing.

                Burnett wasn’t signed and Cervelli traded for to make the club better, they were picked up to fill the holes left by Martin and Volquez.

                You’re absolutely right that every team is going to have roster shortcomings…heck, STL lost Wainwright for, virtually, all of this season. And, yes, the Pirates lost because they’re not built to win one game. The easiest way to make sure you’re not in an elimination situation is to win the division.

                It sucks to win so many and still be fighting to host a WC game, but the Cubs aren’t going away any time soon, and the Cards are the Cards…they’re well funded and extremely well run. If the Pirates are going to contend with that two-headed monster, simply finding a new reclamation project or hoping Pedro finally figures it out isn’t going to cut it.

                The Pirates have reached a point where, to get over the hump, they’re going to have to overpay for talent. If they have to pay an extra $25M for three wins…okay. Had they done that this year, St. Louis hosted Chicago in the WC game and the Pirates still would’ve had a payroll almost $10M less than both of those clubs.

                • That’s easy to say when it’s not your $25 million. Whether fans like it or not, the Pirates are a business first. Ownership will run it to BOTH make a profit and compete at highest level.

                  And quite honestly, Nutting and his team have done an exceptional job of this. And I have every reason to believe they will continue to do so.

    • With bottom of the league ticket prices, its really not surprising we havent suddenly jumped into spending a ton more. We likely operate on a budget smaller than many upper tier payroll teams, so it seems like until we raise ticket prices a bit we wont be all that middle of the pack in spending.

      Our attendance is exactly middle of baseball, so if the team upped ticket prices to not bottom of the barrel they likely would see an influx of ability to spend. But fans would hate seeing higher prices.

      • This is where I’ll really show my ignorance…if I haven’t already 🙂

        With all the revenue streams for teams…do ticket prices correlate to payrolls?

        3 teams entered the season with lower ticket prices than the Pirates, two had higher payrolls.

        On the other hand, Cleveland, Houston, and Oakland had higher average prices, but lower payrolls.

        Not saying that more money in the coffers would mean less money to spend, but just not sure of the direct relationship between tickets prices and payroll.

        • I didnt intend to imply its a direct 1-1 relationship,but that its a factor (and for me, a huge one along with TV deal keeping PGH from a mid level payroll).

          I think many things factor in, but the current TV deal and ticket prices are what mainly stop them from throwing out 120-130 million a year in payroll.

          • Didn’t mean to imply you were…I just don’t know enough about the relationship between the revenue streams to know how much of an effect it would have.

            For example, if the Pirates raised the average price 10%…from $20-$22…that’d be just an extra $5M in revenue. I just don’t see that as being substantial. Again, it’s just the economics of baseball are just a little to slippery to get my brain around.

            • If the Bucs ($20) had the same average ticket price as the Cards ($34) or the Cubs ($41), then you’d be talking about a $35-$52 million bump. Not to mention both those teams make at least $10 million more per year on TV.

              The funny thing is that if fans looked at % of revenue reinvested in the team instead of only the salary spend, Nutting would look like a spendthrift compared to St. Louis’ ownership.

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