Something’s not adding up

With the offseason starting in earnest today, everyone’s writing their hot stove previews for the Pirates. The consensus is, basically, that the Pirates have a bunch of holes to fill and money to spend but that they’re going to have a quiet winter. That probably means “sign crappy free agents.” Still, running through the numbers in my head sort of leaves me with some unanswered questions. 

Let’s start with Jen Langosch’s piece, which ends like this:

The Pirates, partially in part to higher home attendance, have money to spend. The club is mum on exactly how much, but there will be flexibility to go out and add even after taking into account the arbitration raises. It seems likely that the Bucs will open the 2012 season with a payroll above $50 million. 

$50 million seems like it’s not a significant leap in payroll for the Pirates, nor is it actually a significant payroll, except that the Pirates have already said that they’re going to turn down the options on three of their most expensive players from last year, plus a few free agents are certain to leave. As Charlie points out, the Pirates will probably have to spend something like $15-20 million this winter to get payroll up that high. 

Rob Biertempfel, meanwhile, speculates that Garrett Jones is a likely non-tender because he’s a super-two, which means he’ll be rather expensive by the time his arbitration days are over.  That would drive the Pirates pre-hot stove payroll down even further. 

So where’s the money going to be spent? Seriously, there’s only so much money that the Pirates can spend on the free agent market, because Pittsburgh isn’t a place that free agents want to play. Neal Huntington said as much last March. Right now, it looks like the Pirates’ plan this winter is to clear out their roster and fill the holes through free agency. None of the players the Pirates are going to let walk are very good, but it sort of baffles me that it seems like the team is thinking it can plug these holes through free agency, even if theoretical upgrades exist right now. There’s a very good chance this is going to be a frustrating winter to be a Pirate fan. 

Pat Lackey

About Pat Lackey

In 2005, I started a WHYGAVS instead of working on organic chemistry homework. Many years later, I've written about baseball and the Pirates for a number of sites all across the internet, but WHYGAVS is still my home. I still haven't finished that O-Chem homework, though.

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