Pittsburgh Pirates Offseason: Payroll Flexibility
The Pirates 2016 bench was excellent. Their pinch hitters did fine, as they ranked eighth, fourth, eighth respectively in average, on-base, and slugging. To start the season, it included Chris Stewart, Mike Morse, Sean Rodriguez, Matt Joyce, and Cole Figueroa.
Morse and Figueroa didn’t provide much, and Morse was designated for assignment on April 13. Figs, on the other hand, was optioned to Indy, later recalled and then optioned back to Indy, before being designated on June 24th.
Sean Rodriguez had a big year, hitting .270/.349/.510 with a 129 wRC+, all being career highs, and 2016 being the first year he had a 100+ wRC+. He also provided solid defense everywhere he played, but he is a free agent. Matt Joyce is a free agent as well, and after hitting .242/.403/.463 with a 137 wRC+, a career high, there might not be a place for him to play, assuming no trades are made. In the outfield, Joyce posted -2 defensive runs saved and a -27.3 UZR/150, which is a worse UZR/150 than McCucthen’s.
As of now, Chris Stewart will be the backup catcher, as he is owed only $1.4 million next year. David Freese, who just signed an extension, will also be back at $6,250,000. John Jaso is working out at third and in the corner outfield positions. He is due to make $4 million, and as a left-handed hitter who could potentially play four different spots and provide insurance for Josh Bell’s potential defense and Jung Ho Kang’s injury history, the Pirates will only get rid of him if the right trade comes up. The last option is utility player Adam Frazier, who is pre arbitration, will likely make be at $532,500.
With Frazier and Bell being able to play the outfield, Jaso learning, and Josh Harrison if need be, the Pirates only real need is a backup shortstop. The bench of the four players is $12,182,500. It puts the Pirates positional players at $57,148,333, and the team’s payroll as a whole at $82,779,733 with these estimates.