How The Pittsburgh Pirates Can Use Their Low Payroll To Their Benefit

(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Pirates are currently projected to have the third lowest payroll in Major League Baseball in 2020, but this can be used to their advantage

In less than two weeks, pitchers and catchers will report to Bradenton and Spring Training 2020 will be underway for the Pittsburgh Pirates. On Monday general manager Ben Cherington made a move that signal the upcoming 2020 season will be a rebuilding season when he traded star center fielder Starling Marte to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Following the trade of Marte, according to Spotrac, the Pirate payroll for 2020 is projected to be $48,298,500. This will be the third lowest in baseball.

A low payroll is not what fans want to see, even in a rebuilding year. For years Pirate fans have, and rightfully so, ridiculed owner Bob Nutting for not opening up his wallet more and putting more money into the team’s payroll. While it may sound crazy, a low payroll in 2020 is something that the Pirates could potentially use to their advantage.

Arguably the most important task in front of Cherington is to replenish the Pirate farm system. He took a step toward doing this on Monday when he added pitcher Brennan Malone and shortstop Liover Peguero, both of whom immediately became ranked among the team’s top 10 prospects, in exchange for Marte.

Another way Cherington can start to add value to the farm system again is by adding to the payroll. How can he do that you may ask? By taking on bad contracts teams are looking to dump in order to add prospects.

Teams moving highly touted prospects in order to dump bad contracts is nothing new. The Pirates did this at the 2016 trade deadline when they sent Reese McGuire and Harold Ramirez to the Toronto Blue Jays in order to dump Francisco Liriano‘s contract. More recently, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim traded their first round pick from this past June to the San Francisco Giants last month in order to get Zack Cozart‘s contract off the books.

When the Pirates were discussing a potential Marte trade with the New York Mets this was something I was pushing for the team to do. The Mets are desperate to move the contracts of infielder Jed Lowrie and outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, and I argued that by taking on one of those two contracts in any potential Marte trade the Pirates could have greatly increased the value of what they received in terms of prospects.

With the Pirates’ payroll being so low, this is something the team could look to do. By taking on bad contracts, something they can easily afford financially, they can also add talented prospects from that team’s farm system to help replenish their own farm. Furthermore, if the owner of said contract would come to Pittsburgh and play to the level, or close to, that netted them that contract then the Bucs could have a good July trade chip on their hands.

Next. An In Depth Look At Brennan Malone. dark

The Pirates may currently own the third lowest payroll in all of baseball, but, if Cherington chooses to go this route, he could make this something that benefits the Pirates’ long term future. Fans will have to wait and see if Cherington decides to go this route or not.