Saturday, December 8, 2012

Payroll Options: 2014 and Beyond

The Neal Huntington era of the Pittsburgh Pirates organization is coming to a head.  There has been success - the Pirates have been in contention for a playoff spot well into the summer the past two years - mixed with failures - contention has turned into losing seasons thanks to back-to-back epic collapses.  Because of that mix, Huntington's job is in question.  Fortunately for him, the Pirates should still be competitive the next few years, thanks in large part to superstar Andrew McCutchen and a group of veteran players, notably A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez, Clint Barmes, and brand-new Pirate Russell Martin.  All four of those players have something else in common in addition to donning the black and gold.  All four have their current contracts expire by the end of the 2014 season at the latest.

That could signal a transition time.  Starting in 2015, the Pirates will have contracts with exactly two players.  According to Cot's, Andrew McCutchen will make approximately 10 million dollars in 2015. He will still be a Pirate in 2014. The other player is Jose Tabata, who will make slightly more than 4 million in 2014. His future in black and gold is less clear.  In addition, according to Cot's, the Pirates will be in their fourth and final year of arbitration with Garrett Jones, third and final year with James McDonald, third of fourth year with Neil Walker, second year with Travis Snider and Pedro Alvarez, and first year with Michael McKenry and Alex Presley, covering all of the notable Pirates.  It's almost guaranteed that not all of them will be Pirates going into the 2015 season. 

It will be interesting to see the direction the Pirates take going into 2015.  Arbitration should cost the Pirates a good amount of money, notably for Garrett Jones, James McDonald, Neal Walker, and Pedro Alvarez.  Starling Marte will be closing in on arbitration, but also should have a large enough track record for the Pirates to know what type of player he is.  In addition, Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, Tony Sanchez, Gergory Polanco, and Alen Hanson should be in the majors or on the verge of making the jump to the big league squad.

With potential payroll flexibility, the Pirates have options.  They could look to add payroll via external sources, through free agency or trade.  They also have the option of attempting to extend some of their young talent, namely Starling Marte and Jameson Taillon (Cole is a Scott Boars client; Scott Boras is vehement in his stance of refusing extension offers).  Hopefully, whichever path the Pirates choose, it will bring enough talent to surround Andrew McCutchen and transform the Pirates into World Champions. 


  1. "second year with Travis Snider and Neal Walker"

    'tis a typo. Do you mean Pedro?

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