The Pittsburgh Pirates spent over $35 million on new additions to the roster last off-season, so what could we expect them to spend this winter?
Payroll is always a talking point for Pittsburgh Pirates fans. While Bob Nutting has never been a big spender, which has caused a lot of frustration, credit where credit is due. The amount of money the Pirates spent on players in 2022-2023, as well as setting a record for the biggest contract handed out by the team being broken in two straight seasons, are promising signs the payroll is going in the right direction. But how much can we expect the Pirates to spend on off-season acquisitions this winter?
Let’s first take a look at last winter. According to MLB Trade Rumors, the Pirates handed out $30.375 million to free agents. That includes Rich Hill, Austin Hedges, Andrew McCutchen, Carlos Santana, Vince Velasquez, and Jarlin Garcia. But they also added to the payroll via trades. Connor Joe, Ji-Man Choi, Dauri Moreta, and Jose Hernandez added another $6.83 to the payroll. In total, between their free agent additions and their trades, the Pirates spent $37.205 million.
The Pirates already are spending more than they did on acquisitions when they were good. In the 2015-2016 off-season, the Pirates spent less than $30 million on new additions to the roster (once you factor in the difference between Jon Niese and Neil Walker’s salary in 2016). That’s already a good sign of the Pirates deciding to put more money on the table than in previous seasons.
One thing I would expect is this number to increase, at least a little. The Pirates upped their spending on free agents and trades from around $18 million in 2021-2022 up to nearly $40 million in 2022-2023. Now, would I expect the Pirates to nearly double the amount they spent again? No, but I would still expect it to increase by at least $10-15 million.
By the end of the off-season, I would like to hope to see the Pirates spending at least $40 million on new additions via both trade and free agency. That would at least match their 2022-2023 off-season spending total. However, I wouldn’t completely rule out them going slightly bigger and pushing for upwards of $50 million in new additions. Keep in mind that I am still talking about both free agents and trades.
But should you believe that the Pirates will do this? Like with everything, only time will tell, but general manager Ben Cherington seems hungry for more and is willing to put some aggression toward new additions. According to Jason Mackey, “In other words, the opposite of trading veterans for prospects; per Cherington.” Cherington says he wants to improve the team, and the Bucs have sent out feelers to some of the top Japanese pitchers looking to come to the United States.
He also said the Pirates weren't good enough, however, said that he is "excited about the opportunity to explore adding players in free agency, through trades, the waiver wire, and the Rule 5 Draft", as per Kevin Gorman of the Trib Live. Based on these statements, I think it’s reasonable to at least be optimistic the Pirates will spend upwards of $40-45+ million on free agents this upcoming off-season.