Last week it was reported that the Pittsburgh Pirates were considering some extensions for some of their core young players. Well, a rumor is out about exactly who they are looking to extend.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have one of the lowest payrolls in the National League. It is laughable sitting at a measly $51.1 million according to Spotrac.com. This puts them just ahead of the Miami Marlins and the Baltimore Orioles, two teams that no team wants to be compared to based on the last few years.
One of the reasons the payroll is low, besides the embarrassing lack of spending on player acquisition, is because of how many young players are on the current roster. The team had eight players enter their first year of salary arbitration, which usually pays anywhere from $700K to $5 million. Of course, those costs are just going to continue to rise as players go through the arbitration process.
One way to avoid the rapidly rising arbitration salaries is to work out extensions with players before they hit three years of service time. Up until that three-year point, players make around $550K-600K depending on what they work out with their team. By working out an extension to buy out arbitration years, teams can offer more money during the league minimum years to help offset the more expensive years down the road. The White Sox have done this a lot over the last few years with their young prospects, which also allows them to not worry about Super-Two status and bring those prospects up right away.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that this is exactly what the Pittsburgh Pirates are trying to accomplish this spring. According to Rosenthal, the team has already approached four players about working on an extension, including a top prospect:
The first three make a lot of sense for Ben Cherington and the Pittsburgh Pirates to consider. Reynolds had one of the best rookies years in franchise history and Kevin Newman was not far behind him. Both were high draft picks and top prospects at the time of their debuts. Newman would likely be extended and sliding to second base down the road, as Rosenthal does not mention Frazier as a possibility.
Meanwhile, Musgrove makes sense for the team simply because they have a lot of uncertainty in their rotation and need to lock up Musgrove. He has been their most consistent starter over the last few years and is still just 27 years of age. Plus, with a new pitching coach and a new overall management team, there is a belief that he could take a step forward.
Hayes is the most interesting name on the list. Like Rosenthal notes, Hayes has yet to make his big league début and likely would not until June of this year for Super-Two status reasons. However, if the team can agree to some sort of extension during Spring Training then it will likely ensure Hayes’ spot on the roster.
This would be a good thing, he would greatly improve the overall defense in the infield, winning three straight Minor League Gold Gloves. Furthermore, he obviously has upside being the team’s top position prospect with a projectable bat. Hayes has received a lot of playing time this spring, appearing in 12 games and putting up a strong slash line of .292/.414/.458.
It would be surprising to see the Pittsburgh Pirates extend all four of these players this spring. That is just unlikely to happen, but it is good to hear that they are at least having these discussions and showing the players they want them to be a part of the next winning team in Pittsburgh. Now it is time for Bob Nutting to put up some money and prove to the fans that he is committed to putting this team in the best position to win.