Pittsburgh Pirates News: ESPN Baseball Insider Rips Team Over Payroll

The Pittsburgh Pirates have notoriously spent very minimal over the better part of the last two decades.  Now they are being called out, again.

If you are unaware, the Pittsburgh Pirates are one of the bottom five markets in all of Major League Baseball.  Because of this they are very much handcuffed compared to the teams at the top like the Dodgers and Yankees.  However, there will always be the argument that Pittsburgh Pirates owner Bob Nutting should spend more on the team.

Bob Nutting took over the team as majority owner in 2007.  He purchased the majority stake off of now-former owner Kevin McClatchy in 2005.  At the time McClatchy stayed in the executive seat to help with the transition of ownership.

At the time of the sale, the Pittsburgh Pirates were estimated to be worth about $275 million.  Today, the franchise is worth over $1.25 billion dollars. Yet, outside of the years from 2013-2015, the Pittsburgh Pirates payroll has pretty much moved in mainly one direction, down.

Last year the Bucs payroll floated around $55 million for most of the season.  This was to be expected as the team looked to tear down the previous regime’s roster. However, when looking at the big picture,  it can be frustrating.  Bob Nutting has been the official controlling owner of this team since 2007 and the team has traditionally spent towards the bottom of the League.

Of the 17 Opening Days that Nutting has been owner, the team has only spent outside of the bottom five twice, 2013 and 2016.  However, 2016 is even a bit of a lie, as the Front Office started to dismantle the core of the 2013-2015 teams.  As a fan, it is hard to see those numbers, and the excused are starting to get old.

The team needs to start spending money or they are going to face even more criticism than before.  In fact, that criticism has already started, at a National level.  ESPN Baseball Insider Buster Olney tweeted early this morning, basically ripping the Bucs for their lack of spending:

He followed this tweet up with one criticizing a few other small-market teams.  This is typical, as small market teams are blamed for operating the way they do when then there is a clear financial disadvantage across the League. In fact, Olney paints a pretty clear picture of the imbalance in Baseball:

This is the epitome of Major League Baseball.  People see the bigger market teams spending big money and question why all teams cannot do it.  Baseball is unlike any other sport in America.  There is no clear and cut equal revenue sharing system, which means the teams that make the most money, typically spend the most.

Hence why a team like the Mets can pay Max Scherzer just as much as some teams’ payroll.  Should it be that way no, but it is the reality of Major League Baseball. By no means am I excusing Bob Nutting for his lack of financial support.  We all know that at the end of the day, Nutting is having “success” in his eyes, making money.

If not he would not be the owner of this team, as it is an investment to him.  The issue is we as fans are sick of investing our time, money, and passion into the organization year in and year out. Especially when the owner clearly is looking for every way to succeed without having to increase payroll consistently.

Hopefully, something in the new CBA can put these smaller market teams in a position to spend.  Whether it would be some sort of soft floor to push owners like Bob Nutting to financially show effort or a completely new revenue sharing system.  Either way, there needs to be a change, or we will continue to see the Pittsburgh Pirates get knocked consistently on a national level. Many say “it’s a baseball problem” and that is correct baseball needs to fix revenue sharing, but also start holding the owners more accountable.