At the moment, Francisco Cervelli will be the highest paid Pirate in 2019. Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
With the postseason underway, there ?s still baseball to follow for the hardcore fans; unfortunately, the Pirates aren ?t part of that particular discussion, but they are still our main (baseball) focus here at The Point of Pittsburgh.
With the offseason ahead, the focus will largely be on money and moves. I already took a very early look at a projected 2019 roster, and now it ?s only logical to look at what that roster might cost at this point.
This makes sense to discuss at the moment because most every outlet out of Pittsburgh is talking about all the money that ?s going to be available for the Pirates this offseason. I don ?t know if it ?s quite what everyone is making it out to be though, so let ?s break it down and see just what an early estimate looks like for the Pirates.
I ?ll largely be basing this off my aforementioned early roster projection, which is a good starting point to building next season ?s roster.
Guaranteed Salaries: $50,741,667
These are salaries from contracts the team is locked into for next season, including signing bonuses and buyouts. This figure obviously includes Gregory Polanco ?s contract, and he ?ll more than likely be starting on the 60-day DL ?which still means his salary counts towards payroll ?so the team is going to be paying for some kind of replacement, even a minimum salary one, in the meantime.
My projected roster didn ?t include Jordy Mercer or Jung Ho Kang at the time, but several quotes have been made and actions taken that make me feel more confident now than I did then about at least one of their inclusions on next season ?s roster. Even though I seem to be more down on his abilities than others who follow the team, I believe more signs point toward Kang than Mercer at this point; however, I still don ?t believe the $5,500,000 option will be picked up. I find it more likely that a lesser deal gets worked out ?which Neal Huntington has alluded to ?and Kang is given a chance to redeem himself personally and professionally with the organization, but until that ?s more certain I haven ?t included he or his salary in my projections.
Arbitration Salaries: $14,600,000
This still includes three of the four arbitration eligible players for the Pirates ?Ryan Lavarnway notwithstanding. For further details on the breakdown, check out Kevin ?s recent article.
Obviously, this amount isn ?t definite, but it ?s probably a reasonable amount as far as projections go. For reference, MLB Trade Rumors just released their arbitration projections, which sit at $12,500,000 for the same three players. The final number is bound to end up somewhere in this range.
Pre-arbitration Salaries: $10,545,000
This includes every other player on the 25-man roster that isn ?t on a guaranteed contract or in arbitration ?19 in total per my projected roster. The minimum salary is set at $555,000 in 2019, and this is the amount I ?ve defaulted for these players; however, many of them will actually have a slightly higher salary than this.
These minimum contracts are often agreed upon and determined based on service time, and many of the players in the projection had higher salaries last year than this amount. Since I can ?t exactly zero in on those slight raises I ?m just using the minimum. I prefer to be exact, but a few tens of thousands of dollars won ?t break the bank one way or the other.
This does include Chad Kuhl and Edgar Santana, who should spend the entire year on the 60-day DL while recovering from Tommy John surgery. In the meantime, they will be paid their full salary and continue to accrue Major League Service Time.
Minor League Salary: $994,800
The first year 40-man salary for 2019 is $45,300, while the subsequent payment is $90,400, and this total is for 13 players, including the projected players added to the roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft.
This obviously leaves two spots on the 40-man roster. While I filled it in my projection, that ?s before we knew that at least three players would be starting the year on the 60-day DL. Since I can ?t reasonably justify putting two more players from the organization on the Reserve List, this will leave two open spots (in theory) for the team to add additional players, which would obviously swing projections in the future. The Pirates haven ?t opened the season with a full 40-man roster since 2016, so it ?s not out of the question that this is more realistic anyway.
Current 2019 Payroll Projection: $76,881,467
As I mentioned, the common refrain is that the Pirates have a lot of payroll room to add players going in to 2019, as they have a lot of salary coming off the ledger after this past season. While this is true ?the number is $33,287,500 if you factor in all of the players that started on the roster in 2018 that aren ?t slated to be around next season ?I haven ?t seen one person mention retained salary increases for 2019.
For players returning on either guaranteed deals or in arbitration, salaries are projected to increase by around $22,808,333, so while there is money coming off the books, two thirds of that space is being eaten up naturally by raises.
This final total is only about $8 million less than where the team started last year, but around $22 million less than 2017 and about $30 million less than 2016. So, the question is, where do the Pirates see themselves?
They ?ve shown they ?ll spend when the team is more geared toward contention, so how do they view this team? My bet is they aren ?t done making moves after the big trade deadline acquisitions, but we ?ve got all offseason to wait and see what happens.