P2Daily: It’s Time For the Pirates to Start Spending

There is no public information on the Pittsburgh Pirates’ local TV deal.

FanGraphs has an estimate for every team, and gave the Pirates an estimated $44 million — matching the totals for the Reds and the Royals.

We didn’t really know the last TV deal. There were reports that it was $20-25 million a year. The Pirates, under president Frank Coonelly at the time, insisted it was higher than the reported amount, but never revealed the amount.

Now, there isn’t even a reported amount.

I can’t imagine why this town doesn’t trust Pirates owner Bob Nutting.

Starting this year, every MLB team receives $60 million dollars in national TV deals before even selling a ticket. The Pirates currently have around a $60 million payroll.

This doesn’t mean they have the entire local TV deal to spend. There are other expenses for the organization, beyond MLB payroll. That said, the Pirates are getting over $100 million estimated before putting in a drop of effort or selling a single ticket. They can clearly spend more money.

My belief is that the Pirates are deliberately tanking right now, in similar fashion to what we’ve seen from teams like the Astros, Cubs, Royals, and other World Series winners over the last decade. I believe their payroll is intentionally low during this period, with the difference being saved for when they’re a contender.

I’ll add that this hasn’t been the preferred path for Bob Nutting in the past. I asked him about this approach under Neal Huntington, and at that point, he made it clear they would not be deficit spending in any year. He may have had a change of heart at the end of Huntington’s tenure. Nutting told Alan Saunders in 2019 that the team would be doing business in a different way going forward, avoiding the approach of trying for a .500 team and hoping to contend. That approach didn’t come with a very strategic spending plan, with the Pirates just spending to their budget every year.

If the Pirates are going with a different spending approach, then this offseason would be a great time to increase the MLB payroll. Hopefully by the end of this season they will have filled some of the holes on the MLB roster with internal options. They will inevitably need help from the outside, especially with pitching.

It’s time to see the Pirates get serious.

It’s time to see Bob Nutting get serious.

To me, the Pirates look like they’re following a common tanking approach — one that they would never admit to. The problem with assuming such an approach is that it’s difficult to trust the history and secrecy around the business dealings of this team.

How much has Bob Nutting really changed the Pirates’ approach? We still haven’t found out the answer, and I think we’re to the point where it needs to be revealed.

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AttyMike

Fans should be petitioning the MLB players association to press forward with their greivance against the Pirates. That’s the only thing that might result in Nutting spending more money.

AttyMike

“[H]e made it clear they would not be deficit spending in any year.” What does this mean? Does it mean that he’ll never spend more than his revenues in a given year? Because “deficit” has to refer to something and it usually refers to a budget in a given year. In real life, it doesn’t refer to revenues plus accrued savings. If that’s the case, then keeping payroll low now has nothing to do with future spending. I seriously doubt that they’re retaining the difference b/t revenue and their spend as “dry powder” for spending in future years. If that’s what they’re doing (and I don’t think it is), then they should have hundreds of millions of dollars of “dry powder” to spend. Pirates fans should embrace the reality that their payroll is never likely going to exceed much above $100 million, if it ever gets even close to that.

Last edited 9 days ago by AttyMike
zach_wolfe

Here’s my off-season wishlist:
1 mid rotation starter by trade
1 Anderson/quintana type fa
1 league average c.
1 corner of that can hit.
1 high upside reliever.
Also I would not mind some prospect for prospect trades of excess mi/of

NMR

We don’t need the Pirates to “deficit spend” and we sure as shit shouldn’t be holding our breath for them to do it.

What we do need is for them to budget in a manner that is not ultra-conservative assuring a minimum level of profit.

If Tim decided to hire a couple new writers for the 2023 season anticipating a surge in competitiveness, he wouldn’t be expecting to pay them with the millions he’s accumulated in profit over the last five years of losing.

He’d be hiring them with an expectation of that product leading to enough subscriptions to pay for their work. This is how businesses work!

If enough new subs weren’t earned to break even, Tim would lose money. If more subs were earned than needed to break even, he’d make money. This is also how businesses work!

Major League Baseball completely warps the basic understanding of capitalism.

It is not “deficit spending” to invest in your business in hopes of the return being worth it.

The Pirates could easily support a $150m payroll in a winning season with a fanbase they’ve earned and revenue that would come with it.

To any business that isn’t massively subsidized, this is simply how survival works. All we need is for Bob to fucking try.

Last edited 9 days ago by NMR
AttyMike

What Nutting does is shift the point of reference for the reader to “deficit spend” as if that’s what he’d need to do in order to be competitive. Its a false equivalence.

skliesen

I’m 100% in agreement with the thought BN needs to F’ing try to win. As for the specific amount of $150 million, I disagree.

TB tries to win every year and they don’t come close to spending $150 million. I very much doubt the Braves spent close to $150 million last year and they won it all. But their GM didn’t stop trying to win even after they lost Acuna and were roughly a .500 team at the trade deadline.

That’s why I was pissed they traded Melancon back in 2016 at the deadline when they were just a few games back in the loss column from being a WC team. And if I was an Orioles fan, I’d be livid about how they screwed the fans this trade deadline.

Just F’ing try to win! That’s all I ask!

NMR

That’s fair, let’s settle at $130m and call it a day. 😉

skliesen

If they just pay to buy a good LHSP on a multi-year contract this winter, I’ll be ecstatic!

$130 million is very reasonable though. It’s what Brewers spend for God sakes.

PiratePrimate

I’m trying not to be cynical and would even like to believe that Nickles is tired of being called a POS and a thief. I’m sure he receives criticism from people close to him that he needs to spend more money and offer a better product. I could even be convinced that he lies awake at night and questions the respectability of a team payroll south of $40 million.

But show me evidence that that is the case. He cracked open up the checkbook (he didn’t open it up) in 2015 and got lucky with a couple pitchers. But he didn’t spend on a bat or two that the team needed. What was the score of that wild card game they lost that year?

Belly up to the fking bar and plop down your money. Try to be a mensch.

chappy

Perhaps this has been down before, but if not I would be interested in what the financial incentive is to win it all. How much money comes into an organization that wins it all?

NMR

That will forever be the irony of Bob Nutting.

I don’t think there’s any doubt that historically successful franchises like the Yankees and Cardinals make more money by winning more games and building larger fanbases.

Which means in a very direct way, Bob’s lack of greed keeps him perfectly content reaping mere millions in profit and wealth accumulation with literally zero risk involved.

In other works, we need Bob to be greedier.

Or, of course, have even a shred of fucking personal pride in ownership. But we all know how money talks.

Last edited 9 days ago by NMR
jsdspud

As much as I would like to belive that Nutting will deficit spend, I just don’t think that it will happen.

Being in business means taking on risk. A business has to invest in their product or service in order to generate excitement which turns into revenue. For most businesses, it takes a significant amount of capital to start without a guarantee of revenue.

Since the Galbreath’s sold, ownership has been in a perpetual cycle of we won’t spend unless we have more attendance, but the attendance doesn’t increase because the team is bad. (for all but 6 years since 1985)

Nutting says that he wants to win a World Series. People can say anything that they want, their actions always speak louder. For example, I want to bench press 300 lbs. I don’t go to the gym or lift weights anywhere else. It is time for Nutting to start spending money and taking on risk.

I was at a Wednesday night game in May last year with seats next to his luxary box and it was empty. No Bob, no family, no employees from Sevin Springs or Hidden Valley. It reinforced to me that he just doesn’t care.

joesolo6181

With the economy in recession, there are going to be less people attending games next year so there will be less incentive to spend money on the team.

skliesen

And I’d counter if they invest wisely this winter and put out a viable product next year, any loss of attendance due to inflation would be more than offset by the pent up emotions of wanting to see a winner.

docdon385

“I believe their payroll is intentionally low during this period, with the difference being saved for when they’re a contender.” Do you honestly believe that? When has that ever been Nutting’s MO?

His scorecard has nothing to do with wins and losses. He has always judged success by the team’s and his own bottom line. As long as MLB pays him for doing nothing, why would he do anything else? He’s been on baseball welfare for a long time and from all past behavior likes it there. Spending to win would be a risk that so far he’s shown little willingness to take. What pressure is there on him to take it now? Has he started thinking about his personal legacy? Has he suddenly begun worrying about how others view him?

I would like to believe that has changed but the Pirates will actually have to start spending to improve the team before I go there. Extending Hayes might mean he’s loosened the purse strings but it could also just be more of the smoke and mirror approach to take some of the heat off because of people calling him cheap.

Cherington just said that there’s now an urgency to win. People are assuming that relates to his unwillingness to trade Reynolds and Bednar. Fine that sounds good, but how about extending Reynolds as a start to actually show the Pirates are serious and while you’re at it add Cruz to that list. Big investments for sure, but if the savings are actually there to spend what better ways to invest in the future? Signing a few quality veteran free agent pitchers instead of other team’s throw aways would be a big help too.

I sincerely hope that you’re right and that the “payroll savings plan” will be put into effect in the near future through some real increase in team related spending. I will not only be pleasantly surprised but might even be willing to start trying to trust some of the things Nutting and his employees say. You and I both know that if that does not happen all of the prospects and Pirate rhetoric in the world cannot result in having a championship caliber team in the near or even distant future.

I totally agree with your title. It’s time to start spending and let us at least hope that begins soon. Come on Bob, even you can’t take it with you.

clemo83

Preach!!

b mcferren

Trevor Bauer

JimEastTennessee

NO.

TNBucs

You want us to be the Cleveland Browns of MLB?

Wilbur Miller

b mcferren

but Bae is ok?

TNBucs

I don’t lump these two together because there was more than a decade of life experience between the two and one has acknowledged his crime and has faced a court while the other has refused to take responsibility. I can root for Bae, but understand if others can’t.

Wilbur Miller

No, but he’s not remotely comparable to Bauer.

PiratePrimate

Yeah, Bae hit his girlfriend. Bauer hit women who were paid to get hit. He just hit them too hard. They wanted more money than the agreed on price and he didn’t want to pay. That’s a big difference.

TNBucs

The kid and his shirt “Sell the Team” got a lot of attention in the last day. A better and more diplomatic saying/shirt would be “Bob spend Now” (note how the capital letters work :).

TNBucs

Because Nutting is pretty much hands-off other than setting a budget, he has the potential to be a good owner. But with the secrecy around revenue, especially wrt their TV deal, and his unwillingness to spend at levels that teams in comparable markets spend, he’s a bad owner. This offseason is the right time to start showing that things will be different in the future.

jaygray007

They should start by spending the <$2 million due to dinelson lamet this yr by claiming him and seeing if he's worth the 5 he will make in arb next yr. Hard to find a more live arm for cheaper.

Adding to that, the 2023 pirates currently project to cost in the 50 million range. Just imagine what they could buy just getting that into the 90 range.

A legit 1b like Bell/Abreu. Another Anderson-Quintana type sp. Splurge in a deal of redundant prospects for a good 12 million dollar starter who only has a yr or two of control. A Mancini type dh. Those thing probably will cost idk, a little under 40 million total 2023 dollars. 90 million dollar team.

The team has a nice cheap core. It just needs some help.

TNBucs

Lamet, if he makes it to us, would be a great lottery ticket that could cover one of our biggest needs for ’23. There might even be a little added value in having him in his walk year as there is a tendency for players to perform particularly well in that year (or at least past statistical studies have shown that to be the case). Between that and the farther he gets from his surgery, he could be very good in ’23.

jaygray007

So much for that idea

AdministrativeSky236

I am full in on this idea

RAS TN

The sad part is that if the Pirates had spent even a modest amount this year, there is no telling where they would be in the NL Central…

TNBucs

Yeah, we tend to think of windows only in the sense of when a wave of our prospects might be ready but how about also thinking of windows as when the rest of the division is down and a little spending or a few trades of prospects for major league help might make us a contender?

I’ve also been thinking about the pace of our rebuild and how it’s allowed the Cubs’ and Reds’ farm systems catch up to ours so that now our window of prospects arriving coincides with theirs.

AdministrativeSky236

I think we will be probably a year or two ahead of the cubs and reds picking up, so really 23/24 are probably the best soft spot with the cards stars aging as well

JoeNastasi

Isn’t the trading of a few prospects for major league help what got us in this position in the 1st place. {Archer}

TNBucs

Execution of the concept matters. We also traded prospects and took on salary to acquire Burnett and I doubt 2013 would have happened the way it did without A.J.

And if you mean that the Archer trade got us into the position of having Shelton and Cherington, you’re right as it was the biggest factor in Huntington losing his job. If you’re instead referring to us being 19 games below .500, none of the guys we traded would have helped with that–that’s a result of other factors, some due to Huntington, some due to Cherington.

b mcferren

Wandy, Happ, Zane, Blyleven,

roberto

No team ever admits a rebuild.

A minor correction: the Royals were not rebuilding until this trade deadline. And Dayton Moore got heat for that.

TNBucs

I’m pretty sure the Astros and Cubs in the early teens acknowledged such as in “trust the process”.

NMR

As did the Braves and Padres and Orioles and Phillies and Marlins and White Sox and Tigers and now latest the As.

Pirate fans show their stripes when they pretend they actually pay attention to other teams around the league.

leefieux

Bob Nutting replies “ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha”. This article cracks me up.

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