J.A Happ was among the best acquisitions for any team at the 2015 Trade Deadline.
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/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 4 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.
Next up is 2015, the final year of three consecutive playoff appearances for the Pirates, and an extremely unlucky season for one of the best Pirates ? teams in recent memory.
Major League Salary: Relative to the most recent seasons, the Pirates spent big in free agency, committing $25,500,000 in free agent salary to 5 players, including resigning Francisco Liriano at $11,000,000 to start and bringing back A.J. Burnett for the final season of his career at $8,500,000. Arguably the biggest addition, however, may have been that of Jung Ho Kang, an import from the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), a move that had little precedent as far as position players were concerned. The deal ?four years at $11,000,000 guaranteed, with $2,500,000 million in first-year base salary ?presented several interesting payroll notes that deserve to be mentioned. First, the Pirates had to pay Kang ?s former team ?the Nexen Heroes ?a $5,002,015 posting fee just for the right to negotiate and eventually sign Kang. Despite this out-of-pocket expense, none of this amount would have gone towards payroll; however, there are some other expenses related to the contract that many don ?t recognize.
According to Article XXIII(E)(1) of the CBA,
?Salary ? shall mean the value of the total compensation (cash or otherwise) paid to a Player pursuant to the terms of a Uniform Player ?s Contract, including ?the value of non-cash compensation such as the provision of personal translators, personal massage therapists, and airfare and tickets exceeding normal Club allotments.
Basically, this is saying that a player ?s 40-man salary allotment can include items that we would never hear about, such as translators and airfare, and these very stipulations are written in to Kang ?s contract. Since we don ?t know exactly how much Kang ?s interpreter or plane tickets for he or his family would have cost I ?m not going to include it here; however, the final payroll amount could be as much as $115,000 higher due to these contract provisions. Finally, the Pirates agreed to release Kang at the end of his contract, so he ?s not eligible for arbitration at the end of his deal despite having less than six full years of Major League Service.
As for in season moves ?despite what some fans have to say ?the Pirates saw a big opportunity and made a major effort to fortify an already strong team. They made five trades at or around the deadline, and the returns provided a boost down the stretch ?specifically to the bullpen and rotation. The Pirates added J.A. Happ, Joe Blanton, Joakim Soria, Michael Morse, and Aramis Ramirez, who collectively had $13,414,835 in partial season salary remaining. These amounts were offset by several factors however. The Pirates only had to cover $3,000,000 of Ramirez ? $5,615,385 remaining salary. Also, they saved $970,385 by outrighting Vance Worley and Brent Morel to clear roster spots for the new players. Finally, the Dodgers covered a portion of Morse ?s salary in the trade, but the amount was never reported. The Pirates saw no payroll savings in this exercise, since Jose Tabata ?who was sent to the Dodgers in exchange ?wasn ?t on the 40-man roster at the time. While I won ?t add it on, an amount from the Dodgers can at least be estimated. Morse had $2,500,000 remaining for the season, while Tabata would have been owed $1,428,571 for the rest of the season ?just not recognized in 40-man payroll ?therefore, it can be assumed that the Dodgers wouldn ?t have sent more than $1,071,429 to cover the difference between the two remaining salaries. This doesn ?t even take into account the portion of salary the Dodgers received from the Marlins in a trade earlier in the season, muddying the waters even more.
In all, the Pirates added a net total of $9,829,065 in salary with their deadline deals, not counting any cash from the Dodgers for Morse. The team also claimed Travis Ishikawa off waivers and the $556,044 of his remaining salary, pushing the in-season acquisition total to $10,563,680, which also includes a $178,571 portion of Morse ?s signing bonus.
Finally, the Pirates saw arbitration increases of $12,055,000 between 7 players, while contracted salaries for 4 other players increased $10,050,000. Despite the Pirates bringing in a large amount of salary via free agency, they also lost $21,500,000 to free agency, so this is obviously where the year-to-year increase in payroll can be attributed.
Major League Salary Starting Total: $84,677,500
Major League Salary Final Total: $98,614,909
Minor League Salary: The season started with $496,400 committed to just 8 players. There is really nothing else to talk about in this section, as the only two players with three or more stints in the minors were Bobby LaFromboise and Wilfredo Boscan.
Minor League Salary Starting Total: $496,400
Minor League Salary Final Total: $668,175
Signing Bonuses: The Pirates had Pro-Rated Signing Bonuses on the books for Francisco Liriano and Josh Harrison ?s new deals, as well as Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen. The amount increased slightly for the portion of the season Jose Tabata was in the majors, along with the aforementioned portion of Michael Morse ?s bonus.
Signing Bonuses Starting Total: $1,458,333
Signing Bonuses Final Total: $1,676,282
Signing Bonuses (or Pro-Rated Buyouts): This list also includes the Harrison, Marte, and McCutchen deals, as well as buyouts for Charlie Morton and Jung Ho Kang. The final season amount is slightly more because of the Tabata call-up as well.
Signing Bonuses (or Pro-Rated Buyouts) Starting Total: $1,145,833
Signing Bonuses (or Pro-Rated Buyouts) Final Total: $1,155,677
Performance Bonuses: Many bonuses are hard to pin down, so only reported incentives are included in these totals. The only bonus paid was to Andrew McCutchen for his All-Star appearance
Performance Bonuses Starting Total: $0
Performance Bonuses Final Total: $25,000
Cash Considerations: Nothing to report here, as all the cash acquisitions the team made were unreported. The list includes Preston Guilmet, Justin Sellers, Sean Rodriguez (which included Buddy Borden as compensation), Steve Lombardozzi, Arquimedes Caminero, and Joe Blanton.
Cash Considerations Starting Total: $0
Cash Considerations Final Total: $0
Credits: The only credit that can be validated is the portion of Aramis Ramirez ? salary that the Brewers covered as part of the trade. However, the Pirates also received cash considerations in trades for Clayton Richard, Jayson Aquino, and Michael Morse.
Credits Starting Total: $0
Credits Final Total: $2,615,385
2015 Opening Day Payroll: $87,778,066
Final 2015 Payroll: $99,524,658
Here ?s a breakdown of how Opening Day payrolls changed from season to season based on different transaction types. Keep in mind that it shows transactions made between Opening Days, but doesn ?t compare Ending Payroll of one season to Starting Payroll for the next. I will include those for reference, even though it ?s probably not relevant to compare ending totals to starting totals, as they are apples and oranges.
|2013 Start||Between||2014 Start||Between||2015 Start|
|Major League Salary||78,180,000||75,971,000||84,677,500|
|Minimum Salary Increase||1,096,000||92,000|
|Minimum Salary Decrease|
|Minor League Salary||758,900||815,000||496,400|