Pirates Business: Where the Pirates Stand at This Point in the Offseason

For the holiday season, it was requested of me to keep this “light and simple”.

Well, I’ve never been very good at light and simple, but we thought a quick mid-offseason payroll update would do just the trick to yuletide you over.

Hop in the way back machine, and my initial estimate going into 2023 sat at $44,512,660. Of course, as I’ve explained many times, that was nothing but a baseline, and the expectation was that figure would go up as the offseason moved along.

Maybe not to the satisfaction of many fans, but it certainly has.

It’s not as if the Pirates haven’t been busy. As of Fridays writing, they have designated nine players for assignment since the offseason began, outrighted seven, made five trades, lost five to waivers, claimed four, while signing/agreeing with the same amount of free agents.

In total, the team started the offseason with 45 players, 17 of which are gone, with 13 (out of 41) new to the roster.

But what about the payroll?

The free agent signings obviously are the biggest driver to the current increase, as $17,375,000 has been committed in free agency (23rd out of 30, by my count, with two teams—the Brewers and Marlins—still off the board).

The acquisition of Ji-Man Choi did some damage, even though his $4.5 million price tag is still theoretical. That’s obviously offset some by offloading Kevin Newman and his $2.8 million arbitration figure to the Cincinnati Reds.

Of course, there’s still lots of time until Spring Training begins in February, and the season starts at the end of March, meaning plenty of opportunity for more moves. More is bound to happen, as the team is lacking a backup catcher and are particularly thin on backup middle infielders, especially shortstop.

On Wednesday, Ben Cherington stated that the team would like to add another starting pitcher and position player, so who knows what else may be up the team’s sleeve as far as moves go.

For now, projected payroll has surpassed $60 million—see below for the specific figures—right in line with last season.

A paltry figure, no doubt, but one that could still technically go up as we continue through the offseason.

Offseason Calendar Update

No updates here as of this week

Pirates Payroll Updates

—The team acquired an old friend, trading minor league pitcher Nick Garcia to the Colorado Rockies for Connor Joe. To make room on the roster, Nick Mears was designated for assignment.

I count Joe at 1.135 years of service, meaning he has five years of contractual control remaining, but he would be on track for Super 2, meaning 2023 would be his last year at the minimum. He also has two options remaining after using one in 2021.

Joe slots in as the starting right fielder in my theoretical lineup, moving Travis Swaggerty to Triple-A. As I expected, Mears was claimed, so he’ll no longer be on the books.

In total, payroll went down $158,535. Maybe only interesting to me, but since Joe was up all last season, he has quite a high minor league split ($351,000), meaning he’ll make more than most players if he gets optioned to the minors during the season.

—After the team officially signed Austin Hedges, they designated Diego Castillo for assignment. Subsequently, Castillo was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

I had projected Ryan Vilade as the corresponding move, so I just had to do some simple adjustments, after which payroll went down $231,682.

—For 2023, the payroll estimate stands at $60,776,849 for the Labor Relations Department, while it’s $77,193,516 for CBT purposes.

A longtime Pirates Prospects reader, Ethan has been covering payroll, transactions, and rules in-depth since 2018 and dabbling in these topics for as long as he can remember. He started writing about the Pirates at The Point of Pittsburgh before moving over to Pirates Prospects at the start of the 2019 season.

Always a lover of numbers and finding an answer, Ethan much prefers diving into these topics over what’s actually happening on the field. These under and often incorrectly covered topics are truly his passion, and he does his best to educate fans on subjects they may not always understand, but are important nonetheless.

When he’s not updating his beloved spreadsheets, Ethan works full-time as an accountant, while being a dad to two young daughters and watching too many movies and TV shows at night.

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“Where the pirates stand”….


I’ve been thinking about a competitive balance compromise. Small market teams should be incentivized to do a top 10 AAV contract once every 5 years. If they had bad GMs, they’d just resign their fan favs and call it a day. If they had good GMs they’d target players they really like. You could do 1) either you’re top ten in salary once per 5 years or sign one top ten for that year AAV contract or have ROY or have a 0-6 MVP. All of these things could put you in to competitive balance pick and or reduce or excuse luxury tax if you’re not a top top market.


Bucs should just sign Bauer when the dodgers release him. 1 year 10 million


Please no, i couldnt root for the team if that happened


I think that’s fine if you feel that way- but can you root for the pirates with Bae on the team?(kicked and choked his gf)
Hard to say what baurer has done is worse than aroldis Chapman or Domingo german?
Not trying to be too much on the what-about-isms but these guys aren’t role models.
If dodgers release him it means he can sign for league minimum- maybe that’s something we should actually consider trying


Ive been struggling with bae in the system for years tbh and have vocalized my preference just to cut him even with no return. None of these guys deserve to be in the league. People can change and all that good stuff, but being a professional athlete is a privilege not a right

Wilbur Miller

You might consider that, when Bauer got suspended initially, the reporting was that nobody on the team wanted him back.


No question he seems to be a garbage individual. I just think he may be able to help us win more baseball games and honestly might teach our front office a thing or two about pitching analytics.

But I wouldn’t give it a second thought if they don’t even sniff at the guy to contemplate signing


That’s because he’s a pos and an ugly human being. And I’m not even talking about his kink


They live in LA. They’ve got to virtue signal. I’m sure several of the players got laid a few times more than they would have (cheating on wives, likely) for not wanting Bauer back. Maybe even a few who’d been rough with that same groupie before.

Last edited 1 month ago by RaisetheJollyRancherGirl
Wilbur Miller

This is too stupid to merit response.


We know she escorted Tatis and Clevinger too. Just couldn’t get them to try the rough stuff! (Maybe she did get Clevinger, too. She texted a friend Trevor was a “whackadoo like Clev”).

Wilbur Miller

Why don’t you take the incel garbage somewhere else?


Nice ad hominem, Wilbur. It’s just fact from the case. You boomers really signal the hardest. Probably because your generation did way worse and more racist and sexist stuff so you’re post-facto absolving yourselves.

Last edited 1 month ago by RaisetheJollyRancherGirl
Wilbur Miller

Ad hominem? That’s funny. The suspension was mostly upheld. This garbage is irrelevant. Just incel slime.


Dude, “incel” is an ad hominem reduction, yes. I’m married and have a child lol. I’m telling you the woman told a reporter that she hooked up just the same with Clevinger and Tatis and some of her texts to them were intro’d as evidence. I was just about to type that I don’t want to get pissy with you about this Bauer thing because I have respected your Pirates coverage over the years even if I haven’t always shared exactly the same take. Bauer served the longest suspension minus Pete Rose MLB has ever handed out. The woman offered a litany of evidence to be skeptical of her case but happened to get it in the public eye during the height of #METOO. No coincidence there. I don’t like Bauer but I don’t think his career should be ended by a cash-chasing escort who was honeypotting ballplayers hoping one would take her up on the rough stuff.

Wilbur Miller

The suspension was upheld. Guess you missed that part. Try to follow what’s relevant. The rest of your ranting isn’t.

Last edited 1 month ago by Wilbur Miller

The suspension he already served was upheld, of course! Manfred isn’t going to cost his pals the Dodgers any money!

Last edited 1 month ago by RaisetheJollyRancherGirl

And MLB has never suspended even dudes who’ve been on camera beating their wives for nearly that long!

It’s funny that Bauer was a player very vocal critic of the 0-6 MLB system and then he did weird bdsm/kink stuff with a lady who asked him to (in writing) and got the longest suspension we’ve seen for a player.


It’s funny! I *know for a fact* that you don’t think Rob Manfred has good judgement, Wilbur, but in this one case you’re willing to take his call (sure, his “independent arbiter” as if MLB owners divest any control at any turn ever) as more meaningful than the judge who’s actually a part of the legal system who threw out the case. Nobody likes Manfred or his MLB other than when citing this one suspension ruling haha.


And if it’s either wins or character? For a damned club like the Pirates, I choose wins.


3 years 33

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