Pittsburgh Pirates Offseason: Payroll Flexibility

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The Bullpen

Neal Huntington builds strong bullpens. Even in 2016, the Pirates pen was strong, although they finished 11th in ERA, they were one non blowup from Antonio Batardo from being number six. We know the pen will be strong, we just don’t know who will be in it.

We can sharpie in Felipe Rivero, who is pre arbitration, Juan Nicasio, projected to make $4.6 million, Tony Watson, a $5.9 million projection, and Antonio Bastardo, who has a guaranteed $6.625 million. Bastardo’s salary does come with relief, as the Mets sent cash considerations, so being aggressive, let’s assume that the Pirates only pay $4.625 million, as the Mets pick up $2 million. That leaves the Pirates with four relievers at a cost of $15.666 million (Rivero is at $541,400. They’ll also probably go with Jared Hughes, projected at $2.5 million, as they kept him all year on the 25 man roster despite having an option over AJ Schugel. The team is now at $18.166 million for relievers.

Schugel could start the season with the Pirates, but I would expect him to be in Indianapolis. Jeff Locke is almost a guarantee to be non tendered as he lost a starting spot, and his $4.2 million projected arbitration is not very valuable to the Pirates. Wade LeBlanc pitched well in Pittsburgh, but he did so in just 12 innings. He has a 4.39 ERA and a 4.67 FIP in his career, and he has been better to right-handed hitters than left-handed hitters in his career. While he could be a nice depth guy, there’s countless amounts of Wade LeBlanc’s available, so his $1.6 million projection is also not very valuable to the Pirates.

With these projections the Pirates pitching is currently at  $25,631,400.