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Saturday, December 07, 2019

An honest look at the Pirates’ frugal free-agent history under Bob Nutting – The Athletic

There’s not an owner who would say the way to win a World Series is by building a core with free agents alone. But there’s a big difference between not using free agency as a primary source of talent acquisition and … this:

Free Agency Graph

Since Nutting became the Pirates’ principal owner on Jan. 12, 2007, no team has spent less in free agency than the Pirates.

(A note on the numbers: While there is no official, publicly available list of all free-agent signings, data was pulled from free-agent trackers on ESPN and MLB Trade Rumors to compile as comprehensive a list as possible of free agents who have signed major-league deals since the 2006-07 offseason. This time frame was selected in order to analyze trends under the Pirates’ current ownership. The list excludes incentives, options or contract extensions in the salary totals. It includes over 1,500 signings, the last of which was Zack Wheeler and the Phillies agreeing on a five-year, $118 million deal on Wednesday.)

Jim Furtado Posted: December 07, 2019 at 07:35 AM | 12 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: free agency, pay site, pirates

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. Rennie's Tenet Posted: December 07, 2019 at 09:14 AM (#5906483)
They re-signed Liriano for 3 years, $39 million heading into 2015, and Nova for 3 years, $26 million heading into 2017. They did not re-sign Happ going into 2016, and he got 3 years, $36 million. Their limits seem to be measured around those numbers somewhere. I don't think that they've given a fourth year to a player in competitive bidding - it's always been to young players already under team control. The team's budgeting has seemed to be iron-clad, and it seems to back off at the risk of a fourth year.

They just got an extension of the TV contract, and the management team is new. I'll guess that they'll bump the top dollar to maybe $45 million, make a signing that they say shows they're competing harder, but really just reflects any bumps in revenue.

   2. Bote Man Posted: December 07, 2019 at 09:42 AM (#5906488)
I can't remember where nor who said it, but a few months back someone in-the-know stated on Twitter that there is no such thing as a "small market team", that was an invention of Jerry Reinsdorf to get the press to propagate the myth to give cover to teams who didn't want to spend. It looks like it worked.
   3. McCoy Posted: December 07, 2019 at 10:49 AM (#5906502)
Back in the day there certainly was small market teams and if they remove the salary restraints we'd certainly see perennial have and have nots. Or go back to an era of no huge revenue sharing.
   4. Misirlou gave her his Vincent to ride Posted: December 07, 2019 at 10:55 AM (#5906505)
Since Nutting became the Pirates’ principal owner on Jan. 12, 2007, no team has spent less in free agency than the Pirates.


Well, someone has to be last.
   5. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: December 07, 2019 at 10:56 AM (#5906507)
I can't remember where nor who said it, but a few months back someone in-the-know stated on Twitter that there is no such thing as a "small market team", that was an invention of Jerry Reinsdorf to get the press to propagate the myth to give cover to teams who didn't want to spend. It looks like it worked.


Well, yes and no. All the teams are making a lot of money right now, but there are definitely some that are making less than others, and the Pirates are one of those. Their ticket prices are average-to-below-average, and they haven’t ranked in the top half of the NL in attendance since 1990. Their media rights deal that just expired was one of the least lucrative in baseball. They don’t own the parking lots around their stadium. Etc.

So it’s probably not unreasonable for them to be spending less than the average payroll. The question is where to draw the line, and that’s harder to say, because everyone’s books are closed.
   6. puck Posted: December 07, 2019 at 11:44 AM (#5906527)

Well, someone has to be last.


I had been asked to guess who was last, I'm not sure who I would have chosen. The Rays or the A's maybe.

From the chart in the article, teh bottom 5 are:

26. A's
27. Indians
28. Reds
29. Rays
30. Pirates
   7. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 07, 2019 at 12:11 PM (#5906539)
I can't remember where nor who said it, but a few months back someone in-the-know stated on Twitter that there is no such thing as a "small market team", that was an invention of Jerry Reinsdorf to get the press to propagate the myth to give cover to teams who didn't want to spend. It looks like it worked.


If you define "small market" as unable to carry a $125M payroll, going up to $150M on occasion, I agree with you. Every team should be spending over $75M every year, over $100M most year, and averaging $125M over the "success cycle".

"Small market" teams are sitting on something like $100M in revenue before they get $1 in local revenue.
   8. bbmck Posted: December 07, 2019 at 04:22 PM (#5906616)
Seasons of 3+ position player or pitching WAR by franchise in a player's 8th+ season 2007-2019:

38 - NYY
36 - BOS
29 - TOR
28 - DET, LAD
23 - LAA, STL

22 - CHC, TEX
21 - PHI, SEA
17 - ATL, MIN, WSN
16 - NYM
14 - BAL, HOU, MIL

13 - CHW, CIN, TBR
12 - SFG
10 - CLE
9 - ARI, COL, OAK

8 - KCR
7 - MIA
6 - SDP
5 - PIT

If you extend Joey Votto or Felix Hernandez instead of spending on free agents that's one thing, some franchises just haven't had much for good players beyond their team control years.
   9. Sunday silence Posted: December 07, 2019 at 10:14 PM (#5906699)
Their media rights deal that just expired was one of the least lucrative in baseball.


is this expected to improve now?
   10. Walt Davis Posted: December 08, 2019 at 04:06 PM (#5906849)
To pick a nit: there's "market size" then there's "revenue produced." That, say, the Pirates don't get money from the parking lots wouldn't seem to have much of anything to do with market size but with the Pirates' ability to negotiate (and did they just settle from some alternative source of revenue). And while market size puts some sort of constraint on average attendance over a period of time, if the Pirates are drawing subsantially less than teams in similar markets, then that suggests an issue with the Pirates not the market.

But "market size" is tough to determine -- or possibly we should phrase it as "market potential." That not only gets into population size but income, competition, trasnport/travel times, etc. Still population size will be the key driver and obviously when the NY metro area has 20 million people split by 2 teams and LA has 13 M split by two and Pitt has 2.3 M, it's reasonable to call Pitt a "small market."

I'll agree with Snapper too though. With about $80 M in commone and shared revenue (last estimate I recall seeing) any team should be able to run a $100-125 M payroll.. They're clearly disadvantaged relative to the teams that can run $200-250 M payrolls with near impunity but, under the current system, it's not as extreme as (20M/2) vs 2.3.
   11. Rennie's Tenet Posted: December 08, 2019 at 06:55 PM (#5906869)
is this expected to improve now?


I don't think anything has been reported about the terms.
   12. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: December 08, 2019 at 07:55 PM (#5906879)
I don't think anything has been reported about the terms.


That said, they could hardly be worse than the old deal was.

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