This week will bring some changes to the Pittsburgh Pirates roster, and will likely end with a full blown MLB lockout — unrelated to what the Pirates decide to do with Colin Moran.
MLB has moved the non-tender deadline up to Tuesday at 8:00 PM EST, due to the likelihood that a lockout will begin this week. I’ll have a look at the Pirates’ non-tender candidates tomorrow. The biggest case to watch will be how the Pirates handle Colin Moran.
Moran is projected to receive $4 million in arbitration, which is what the Pirates just agreed to pay Yoshi Tsutsugo. I’ve made the argument a few times that Tsutsugo is a better choice at first base than Moran. The Pirates could keep Moran around as a designated hitter — assuming there is one — or they could save the $4 million he’s projected to receive and put it toward another area of need on the team.
It’s not like the Pirates need the money. By Ethan Hullihen’s latest projections, the Pirates are around $36.4 million. That doesn’t include Jose Quintana or Yoshi Tsutsugo. Adding those two would take the payroll up to $42.4 million, or to $38.4 million if Moran is non-tendered.
The Pirates were in the $50 million range last year, which is bare-bones payroll. If Moran was non-tendered, they’d have $12 million remaining to spend to get back to 2021 levels.
The Pirates are “building” and hopefully that means building up the payroll. This is a team that has a lot of holes on the roster, and a lot of uncertainty about who would help make them a contender in 2022 if Bryan Reynolds or Jacob Stallings went down with an injury.
I think they could benefit from adding an outfielder, a starting pitcher, and a solid reliever.
Those additions, plus the wave of prospects they have arriving from the upper levels, could make for a solid team, depending on the quality of the additions.
If the Pirates bank on more Quintana/Tsutsugo style signings, then it could be possible to add quality at all three positions. It would be extreme improbable that the Pirates would be that successful with the bargain bin of free agency.
The Pirates are likely going to need to spend more than they did in 2021 in order to have any kind of chance in 2022. If they focus their spending on 2-3 spots, they could have a shot at some decent free agents on multi-year deals.
That’s assuming the Pirates would want any multi-year deals before the Collective Bargaining Agreement is renewed.
The current one expires at 11:59 PM EST on Wednesday, December 1st.
The expectation is that the MLB owners will institute a lockout.
Then, the games will begin, possibly preventing baseball games from beginning on time in 2022.
Part of the MLB CBA negotiations will be focused on what to do with teams like the Pirates, who are spending payrolls that would have been considered low a decade ago, all in the name of rebuilding.
Part of the negotiations will focus on service time, arbitration, and all of the other financial implications that hit a smaller budget team harder than bigger budget teams.
I’ve been focusing a lot more on payroll articles this offseason than in previous years because that topic is likely going to be the center of a lot of discussions around the game going forward. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some big changes to MLB over the next few months, at least to the point that it would impact the way the Pirates do business.