The Pirates were a playoff team for three straight seasons from 2013-15, but they've now missed the playoffs three straight years. Last season, they were 82-79 and return mostly the same team this time around. If there was a time to spend in free agency in an attempt to get back to the playoffs, this would be it.
Per Cot's Contracts, the Pirates' Opening Day payroll last season was a touch over $86 million. As things stand right now, baseball-reference.com pegs the Pirates' Opening Day payroll at $74 million. Small market or not, they have slashed payroll after a season in which they were competitive and even were buyers at the trade deadline. What gives? Let's ask the owner, Bob Nutting ...
Asked why payroll went down, Nutting said, "We need to focus on the things we believe are controllable."— Bill Brink (@BrinkPG) February 20, 2019
This is outrageous. He first said payroll isn't controllable, which is absolutely is. When asked the correct follow up question, he said a bunch of stuff that really didn't mean anything. It was word salad. Seriously, "payroll scale and range, broadly, is not controllable." That doesn't mean anything and it's false. Quite the double whammy.
Per Forbes last April, the Pirates had annual revenues of $258 million and were the 18th most valuable franchise in MLB. Each team got $50 million last January from MLB's sale of BAMTech. The Pirates also receive revenue-sharing money, though those dollars are dwindling. The Pirates have spent over $100 million on payroll before.
The Pirates aren't rebuilding, otherwise they wouldn't have traded for Chris Archer last July. They haven't sold off anyone this offseason, either. If they aren't rebuilding, why are they cutting payroll?
Though he didn't really say much of anything, the message from Nutting is pretty clear to me: He thinks Pirates fans are stupid or aren't paying attention. If I were one, I'd strongly consider staying away from the ballpark until he showed fans he cared about them.