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Pirates Payroll Rewind: 2012

Remember when Erik Bedard was a big FA acquisition? That’s better left forgotten.
Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

After taking a deep dive into specific payroll calculations from the CBA and how they apply to the Pirates opening day roster in 2018, I thought it would be fun to take a look back and see where the Pirates ? payroll was and how it has progressed over the years using the same criteria. This is Part 1 of a six-part series which will examine the payroll on a year-to-year basis, looking at starting payrolls, mid-season additions, arbitration raises, amongst plenty of other roster machinations.

These recaps will be more of an overview, so for a primer on the intricacies of how the payrolls are calculated, see the original 2018 piece.

We ?ll start with 2012, the final season of the 20-year losing streak and when the Pirates really started to contend.

Major League Salary: Remember when the Pirates specialized in bringing in past-their-prime free agents and called it getting better? The 2011-12 offseason was no exception, when they committed $16,500,000 in salary to FA signings Clint Barmes, Erik Bedard, Rod Barajas, Nate McLouth, and Minor League FA Juan Cruz. Only Barmes and Barajas finished the season with the team, and Barajas had his 2013 option declined after the season. The team did make one major acquisition via trade, bringing in A.J. Burnett from the Yankees for spare minor league parts. Burnett had a $16,500,000 salary; however, the Pirates only had to cover $5,000,000, while the Yankees were so eager to get rid of Burnett they covered the rest. This obviously proved to be one of Neal Huntington ?s best trade acquisitions in his tenure.

The team was in the race during the season, so they made several trades at (or around) the deadline, acquiring Wandy Rodriguez, Travis Snider, Gaby Sanchez, and Chad Qualls, while sending out Brad Lincoln and offseason addition Casey McGehee on the major league side. At the time of the trades, Gorkys Hernandez and Rudy Owens were in the minor leagues drawing a minor league salary. In total, the Pirates added $3,528,088 in major league salary at the trade deadline. However, they also spent an additional $923,077 on the waiver claim of Hisanori Takahashi from the Angels. Obviously, in retrospect, none of these additions were enough to push the Pirates over the edge and into the playoffs.

Finally, the Pirates committed $17,257,500 in arbitration salaries to 8 players. Also of note, this was the first season of Andrew McCutchen ?s 6-year extension, in which he started out at a $500,000 base salary.

Major League Salary Starting Total: $61,557,000

Major League Salary Final Total: $66,285,352

Minor League Salary: The season started with $821,625 committed to 13 players, and aside from this being the first year where the Jose Tabata extension wasn ?t looking so hot ?he spent 47 days in the minors where he was drawing his $750,000 major league salary ?there ?s nothing major to report here.

Here are some familiar names who had three or more stints in the minors in 2012: Jeff Locke, Daniel McCutchen, Jared Hughes, and Evan Meek. This was also the final season for Top-5 pick Daniel Moskos in the Pirates system; he was Designated for Assignment and claimed off waivers by the White Sox.

Minor League Salary Starting Total: $821,625

Minor League Salary Final Total: $941,141

Signing Bonuses: Pro-rated Signing Bonuses equaled $1,875,000, which included Pedro Alvarez ? Major League Deal signed out of the draft, as well as McCutchen ?s and Tabata ?s extensions. The Pirates also acquired $576,923 of Wandy Rodriguez ? $1,500,000 signing bonus.

Signing Bonuses Starting Total: $1,875,000

Signing Bonuses Final Total: $2,451,923

Signing Bonuses (or Pro-Rated Buyouts): Again, this includes the buyouts from both McCutchen ?s and Tabata ?s deals, as well as a portion of Rodriguez ? buyout. In total, the Pirates added $5,384,615 in 2012 salary for Wandy Rodriguez.

Signing Bonuses (or Pro-Rated Buyouts) Starting Total: $208,334

Signing Bonuses (or Pro-Rated Buyouts) Final Total: $1,169,872

Performance Bonuses: Obviously, no salary was allocated at the beginning of the year for any Performance Bonuses, but the CBA states that ?[p]erformance, award, assignment, and other bonuses earned for performing or otherwise providing services under a contract shall be included in a Player ?s Salary if those bonuses were earned as of the conclusion of the championship season. ?

Many bonuses are hard to pin down, so only reported incentives are included in these totals. The Pirates had to pay Kevin Correia for both Innings Pitched and Games Started incentives, as well as Andrew McCutchen for his All-Star appearance, Gold Glove win, and 3rd Place MVP finish.

Performance Bonuses Starting Total: $0

Performance Bonuses Final Total: $450,000

Cash Considerations: Nothing to report here, as the only trade involving outgoing cash for the Pirates was the acquisition of Drew Sutton, which was unreported.

Cash Considerations Starting Total: $0

Cash Considerations Final Total: $0

Credits: The Pirates had a large amount of salary credits in 2012 ?the main factor being the $11,500,000 from the Yankees to offset A.J. Burnett ?s $16,500,000 salary. Also included is the portion of the minimum salary that the Orioles would have paid Nate McLouth after he was signed to a minor league contract.

Credits Starting Total: $11,500,000

Credits Final Total: $11,660,879

2012 Opening Day Payroll: $52,961,959

Final 2012 Payroll: $59,637,409

Ethan is a Pirates contributor to The Point of Pittsburgh. An Accountant by trade, Ethan is passionate about the business of sports and won't apologize for enjoying it more than the actual games. He's a believer in analytics, hasn't played a game since little league, and can be contacted via Twitter @EthanHullihen

4 Comments on Pirates Payroll Rewind: 2012

  1. Dixie Walker // May 11, 2018 at 9:40 AM //

    This can’t be true. A well known blogger insists that this team NEVER adds payroll during the season. I assume 2012 was part of the “regime”.

    • Ethan Hullihen // May 11, 2018 at 7:34 PM //

      It’s why I love facts and figures; they don’t lie like all the narratives do.

      I’m excited for the 2015-16 iterations, based on the completely off-base narratives surrounding those seasons.

  2. Kevin Schafer // May 12, 2018 at 2:51 PM //

    I think when people complain that the Pirates don’t add payroll, they mean that the Pirates don’t get their payroll up over a $100 million. The Pirates could add just a million dollars to payroll and the Pirate faithful will jump up and shout out “See!!! They are indeed raising payroll!!!”

    And also, most fans don’t accept the raising of players salaries through their contracts as counting as the Pirates raising payroll.

    • Ethan Hullihen // May 12, 2018 at 10:51 PM //

      I think I agree with you; I believe this is how fans feel, but I just don’t understand it.

      I believe we’re going to be doing one of these a week through 2017 season, and it’s interesting to see how the numbers have progressed through 2012 until now. Yes, they eventually make it to $100M, but I agree fans don’t necessarily agree with how. It’s as if signing a “big” free agent is the only correct move; everything else is wrong. Give me a minor move that is right over a big move that is wrong any day.

      As for your second point, I don’t agree with this at all, even though I do think fans feel this way as well. What’s the alternative–trade a player before Years 2, 3, etc. kick in? Non-tender a player instead of offering arbitration? Fans would get just as upset over those “cost saving” moves. The Pirates are largely in a no win situation, and I personally feel it’s unfortunate.

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