In a surprising turn of events, the Pittsburgh Pirates find themselves on the sidelines as Shohei Ohtani pens a record-breaking deal with the Dodgers. Just kidding, this really wasn't that surprising. Whether it is the classic big market team landing another big market star or if it is the Pittsburgh Pirates not spending as usual, nothing about this scenario was all that surprising. The 10-year, $700 million contract, laden with unique deferred payments, highlights a stark contrast in team finances and aggressiveness.
Ohtani's deferral tactic, receiving a mere $2 million annually for the next decade while securing a financial safety net post-retirement, may be a savvy move for the player. We see players like Bobby Bonilla, Ken Griffey Jr, and Chris Davis still making money after their player's careers have been well over. This is also a loophole in the CBA which allows teams to push an unspecified amount of money down the road. So while his contract is worth $700 million, $680 million will be deferred for a decade.
However, for the Pittsburgh Pirates, a team accustomed to more frugal spending, the deal is nothing short of embarrassing.
The entire value of Ohtani's contract surpasses the Pirates' typical annual payroll, standing at $70 million. The Bucs spent about this much on their payroll last season. Their current payroll is less than that mark as well. Adding to the irony, several Pirates players, including Bryan Reynolds, Ke'Bryan Hayes, and Marco Gonzales, boast salaries exceeding Ohtani's current annual earnings. As of now, they are the three highest-paid players on the roster.
As the Pittsburgh Pirates navigate the financial landscape of Major League Baseball, questions arise about the feasibility of such mega-deals and the impact on competitive balance. While the Dodgers strategically manage their luxury tax implications while handing out lucrative deals, the Pittsburgh Pirates continue to act like a broke franchise that will never consider dipping their toes in that market.