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Pittsburgh Pirates: Contracts and Financial Overview

2011 payroll: $45,047,000

Let's break it down:

Free Agent-eligible

Chris Snyder: $6,250,000
Lyle Overbay: $5,000,000
Kevin Correia: $4,000,000
Matt Diaz*: $2,125,000
Joe Beimel+: $1,750,000
Jose Veras*: $419,500

*Non-tendered with less than 6 years of major-league service.
+Minor-league deal.

Snyder signed a 3-year, $14.25 million contract with the Diamondbacks in December of 2008 with a $6.75 million club option ($750,000 buyout) for 2012 before he was traded to Pittsburgh. The Diamondbacks shipped $3.0 million to the Pirates in the deal, reducing their 2011 payroll to $42,047,000. Matt Diaz was eligible for arbitration this past offseason but the Braves non-tendered him instead, allowing him to hit the open market. He signed a 2-year, $4.25 million, big-league contract with the Pirates as a free agent.

Joe Beimel's contract was a minor-league pact that pays him a pro-rated portion of $1,750,000 for the time he spends in the majors and includes $300,000 in performance-based incentives. He was added to their active roster on April 15th. Lyle Overbay and Kevin Correia both signed as major-league free agents this offseason, Overbay getting 1-year, $5.0 million and Correia getting 2-years, $8.0 million. Veras was non-tendered by Florida with 3 years, 128 days of service last offseason. The Pirates signed him to a minor-league deal and added him to their active roster when the season started. Pittsburgh can retain Veras in 2012 and 2013 as an arbitration-eligible player.


Paul Maholm: $6,250,000
Ryan Doumit: $5,200,000
Ronny Cedeno: $2,050,000
Joel Hanrahan: $1,400,000
Jeff Karstens: $1,100,000
Ross Ohlendorf: $2,025,000

Maholm and Doumit both signed 3-year deals with the Pirates during the 2009 pre-season, buying out their arbitration years. The Pirates hold club options for their 2012 seasons (and Doumit's 2013 season). Doumit's options are worth $15.5 million combined, carry a $500,000 buyout, and must be exercised simultaneously. Maholm's option is worth $9.75 million and carries a $0.75 million buyout. Cedeno signed a 1-year, $2.05 million deal last offseason, buying out his final year of arbitration and giving the Pirates a club option for his 2012 services. The contract has $200,00 worth of award bonuses built in. The option is worth $3.0 million and carries a $200,000 buyout, but the 2012 salary can increase based on how many starts Cedeno makes in 2011: $3.5 million with 140 starts, $4.0 million with 142 starts, $4.5 million with 147 starts, $5.0 million with 150 starts.

Hanrahan and Karstens were are both eligible for arbitration for the first time last offseason and signed 1-year deals, avoiding arbitration. Karstens' contract calls for him to receive a $25,000 bonus if he makes 20 starts and another $25,000 bonus if he makes 25 starts. They are both under team control through the 2013 season as arbitration-eligible players. Ohlendorf was arbitration-eligible for the first time as a super two last offseason. The Pirates offered $1.4 million and Ohlendorf asked for $2.025 million. The two parties failed to come to an agreement and had to plead their cases to an arbitration panel, which awarded Ohlendorf the $2.025 million salary he asked for. He is under team control through the 2014 season as an arbitration-eligible player.


Pedro Alvarez: $2,050,000
Evan Meek: $461,500
Garrett Jones: $455,500
Andrew McCutchen: $425,500
James McDonald: $443,000
Charlie Morton: $441,000
Neil Walker: $437,000
Chris Resop: $431,500
Jose Tabata: $428,000
Steve Pearce: $427,500
Jason Jaramillo: $422,500
Brandon Wood: $420,000
Xavier Paul: $419,500
Kevin Hart: $419,500
Jose Ascanio: $419,500
Brad Lincoln: $419,500
Mike Crotta: $419,500
Pedro Ciriaco: $419,500

Despite having less than a year of major-league service Pedro Alvarez is the highest paid pre-arbitration-eligible Pirate. This comes about as a result of his first contract: one of the most complex deals a draftee has ever signed. Scott Boras and the Pirates originally agreed on a minor-league deal with a $6.0 million signing bonus, but the MLB players' union claimed they did not agree to the deal by the August 15th signing deadline. The Pirates and Boras subsequently re-worked the deal into a major-league contract worth $6.355 million over 4 years including two club options worth $700,000 apiece for the 2013 and 2014 seasons. The third $1.5 million payment of his $6.0 million signing bonus will be paid in 2011 and the fourth and final will be paid in 2012. As it stands Alvarez is under team control through the 2016 season.

2012 Contracts

The Pirates only have $10.625 million guaranteed to players in 2012: $2.2 million for Pedro Alvarez, $2.125 million for Matt Diaz, $4.0 million for Kevin Correia, and $2.2 million tied to buyouts for the club options of Paul Maholm, Chris Snyder, Ryan Doumit, and Ronny Cedeno. The options belonging to Maholm and Doumit are virtual locks to be declined, while that of Snyder and Cedeno could go either way. Tony Sanchez, the Pirates top catching prospect and #4 overall draft pick in 2009, is currently hitting .274/.384/.349 at AA, so another year in the minors beyond 2011 probably wouldn't hurt. The Pirates could always trade Snyder to make room for Sanchez once he's ready, so exercising the option seems like the logical move. Cedeno has started 36 of the Pirates' 42 games, putting him on pace to fall one start short of the 140 starts he needs to increase the price of his 2012 club option from $3.0 million to $3.5 million.

Nine Pirates players are eligible for arbitration for the first time in 2012: Evan Meek, Garrett Jones, Andrew McCutchen, Charlie Morton, Chris Resop, Steve Pearce, Jason Jaramillo, Brandon Wood, and Jose Ascanio. Of these players, Andrew McCutchen will undoubtedly receive the biggest first-time raise. Charlie Morton and Garrett Jones could be in line for big paydays if they continue to have good years. Morton is currently 5-1 with a 2.62 ERA in 55 innings and Jones is currently hitting .243 with a .796 OPS and 6 home runs.

James McDonald and Neil Walker will have to wait another year to go to arbitration for the first time while Jose Tabata will have to wait two.

The departure of Maholm, Doumit, Overbay, and Beimel should give the Pirates enough money to cover all their arbitration raises and some more to play with. They'll pick first in the June draft, so perhaps they'll reduce payroll a bit to spend big on the first overall pick and acquire a potentially franchise-shaping talent. They've typically operated in the $35-$50 million range and will be able to continue operating in that range in 2012 despite their nine first-time arbitration-eligible players. They should be set in the outfield with Tabata, McCutchen, Jones, and Diaz. They have their catcher situation taken care of if they exercise Snyder's option or Sanchez takes a step forward this year. They're set at third base with Alvarez, second base with Walker, and hold an option for Cedeno's services to play shortstop.

Apart from Sanchez, most of their top prospects are pitchers who are a long way away from the big leagues. They could go into the 2012 season with a rotation of Kevin Correia, Ross Ohlendorf, Jeff Karstens, Charlie Morton, and James McDonald, but that would leave them with little depth, so we may see them target a starter in the offseason. Hanrahan, Meek, Resop, and Daniel McCutchen will likely form the core of their bullpen in 2012, though an additional relief arm or two wouldn't hurt. First base is probably their biggest hole in 2012 and it will be interesting to see how the Pirates fill the void. Look for them to sign another stop-gap first baseman while they try to locate a more permanant solution. Re-upping with Lyle Overbay isn't out of the question, in which case they would be bringing back their entire starting 8.


The Pirates have some young talent on their major-league roster, but not enough to contend. Unfortunately little immediate help is on the way from their farm system--Tony Sanchez represents the last potential all-star for awhile. They have a trio of potential impact arms in the lower minors: Jameson Taillon, Stetson Allie, and Luis Heredia, but they're all very far away from contributing to a big-league roster. For now they have the financial flexibility to tread water while identifying which players on their roster can be a part of the next great Pirates team and waiting on the development of their holy trinity of pitching prospects.

They do have the first overall pick in the June rule 4 draft and who they select with that pick could very well shape the course of the franchise over the next 10 years. My advice: do whatever you can to get the most talented player, because this isn't an opportunity that will come about many more times and the current roster simply isn't talented enough to contend. Adding a potential star to their farm to augment Heredia, Allie, and Taillon would make their path to contention much more clear.

See also: Cot's Baseball Contracts: Pittsburgh Pirates