Pirates front office reportedly fuming after Bob Nutting's trade deadline, payroll comments

Pirates owner Bob Nutting made some potentially misleading comments before the trade deadline, one team source said.
Boston Red Sox v Pittsburgh Pirates
Boston Red Sox v Pittsburgh Pirates / Justin K. Aller/GettyImages

Pittsburgh Pirates owner Bob Nutting made it sound like he could be inclined to break with tradition and expand his team's payroll so that general manager Ben Cherington could improve the offense leading up to the MLB trade deadline on July 30.

“I’m not at all sure that we won’t have opportunities well in advance of the deadline,” Nutting told reporters on June 21 (via Pittsburgh Baseball Now). “I think we should be prepared to move early. I think we should be prepared to take advantage of opportunities when they arise. I know Ben has that flexibility to look across a broader range of alternatives, options but also a timeline of when it makes sense to strike.”

That all sounds good – too good to be true, even. Probably because it is.

Pirates source says Nutting's comments about expanding payroll are 'misleading, at best'

A member of the Pirates' baseball operations staff told Pittsburgh Baseball Now's John Perrotto that Nutting's comments were "misleading, at best" and that they made many members of the team’s front office “furious."

“Bob implied we’re going to have money to spend, and he got the fans excited,” the individual told Perrotto under the condition of anonymity. “But he told us we don’t have any money to make any significant additions.”

Significant additions are exactly what this team needs – namely, a bat or two (or several). The Pirates have a promising starting rotation that includes rookies Paul Skenes, Jared Jones and Mitch Keller, but Nutting's refusal to spend will continue to leave them without any run support. The Pirates' offense currently ranks 19th in the league with 4.11 runs per game, and the team will likely have to dump a salary in order to get a hitter who will truly move the needle.

The Pirates finished last in the NL Central in each of Cherington’s first three seasons as general manager. Last year, they finished second to last. On an almost certainly related note, the franchise is 29th in the league in payroll.

In other words, it's business as usual in Pittsburgh. At 43-47, the Pirates are within striking distance of the third Wild Card spot in the National League standings. But as long as Nutting is unwilling to open his wallet, this team will remain perennially mediocre and fall short of an expanded playoff field.