Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Pirate Treasure Chest

Hey, in a surprise development, the Pirate suits blinked as they approached Nate McLouth's arbitration panel in Phoenix today. Not only did they ink him for this year, but in a marathon session before the hearing, they signed him up for four years.

With his bonus, McLouth gets $3.5M this year, $4.5M in 2010, $6.5M in 2011, and has a team option for $10.65M in 2012, according to several sources. He has the usual array of incentives, and his are escalators - not one-time bonus checks, but money added directly to his base pay that carries over for future seasons.

It's a fair deal; Ryan Ludwick just signed for $5M, Corey Hart for $3.25M, Andre Ethier for $3.1M, and Rick Ankiel for $2.83M, so the baseline numbers fit.

If they exercise the option years, Pittsburgh now has McLouth, Ian Snell, and Paul Maholm under control through the 2012 season, and Ryan Doumit until 2013.

The guys under contract this year now are Jack Wilson ($7.25M), Adam LaRoche ($7.05M), Freddy Sanchez ($6.1M), McLouth ($3.5M), Maholm ($3.5M), Snell ($3M), Doumit ($2.35M), Matt Capps ($2.3M), John Grabow ($2.3M), Zach Duke ($2.2M), Ramon Vazquez ($2M), Eric Hinske ($1.5M), and Tyler Yates ($1.3M). That's $44.35M for the signed, sealed, and delivered lucky thirteen players.

Throw in a dozen guys making minimum wage on the 25-man roster, and we're looking at about a $50M payroll without bonuses, equivalent of two years of Manny. By himself. The City should do so well with its budget; that's $4M under the suit's self-imposed cap.

Well, they wanted flexibility, and did a good job of getting it, too. They've got four young guns bought out of their arbitration years; maybe they'll work on extending Matt Capps next. Heck, they have enough to take on another Boras client in the 2009 draft.

And ya know what? We're not bummed at the figure; actually, we're kinda impressed. They have control of their core youngsters, either contractually or through future arbitration, and a couple of bucks in play money to satisfy whatever small itch they'd like to scratch.

And they'll be in good shape next season, too. If we read the service times right (and please don't assume we can; if there's anyone else eligible, give GW a yell), the following guys will be arbitration-eligible after the season: Yates (year 3), Capps and Duke (year 2), and Sean Burnett and Tom Gorzelanny (first year). Jeff Karstens could end up a "Super Two" if he stays on the roster all year. And even if Pedro defies the odds and arrives in 2010, he's signed for $500K.

So no bank-breakers there, plus Wilson, Adam LaRoche, and Sanchez are pocketing over $20M this year, and we assume some of that should shake free over the course of the season.

Bob Nutting hired the right guys.


WilliamJPellas said...

That was a great summary, Ron. Turns out the Pirates' Hot Stove was a bit warmer than it first appeared, eh? Perhaps not in the conventional, look-at-how-many-trades-and-signings-we-did sense, but still a busy and to all appearances quite productive offseason.

I like it!

Ron Ieraci said...

Yah, Will, it does show that when the window of opportunity finally opens, when guys like McCutchen, Tabata, Lincoln, Morris and Alvarez pop up, there should be some warm bodies still around instead of the constant sloughing off of talent.

Of course, cost certainy cuts both ways - if they want to move any of these guys, knowing their cost and how long long they're under control makes them more attractive to other teams, too. Still, they were risks that they were wise to take; everyone seems to have a fair deal (no real overpays), which is usually better than you can get from the free agent market.