The Pittsburgh Pirates received some great news this week as outfield prospect Gregory Polanco was named Dominican League MVP and rookie of the year after hitting .331/.428/.494 on the annual winter circuit.
Although general manager Neal Huntington has indicated the 22-year-old jewel of the Bucs’ minor-league system will all but certainly start 2014 with Triple-A Indianapolis, Polanco’s continued accelerated development means he’ll probably be manning right field for Pittsburgh in the near future.
Besides the upcoming MLB debuts of Polanco and top pitching prospect Jameson Taillon, however, the Pirates’ prospective 2014 roster is decidedly what-you-see-is-what-you-get. The Bucs are reportedly still on the market for another first-base option, but the group that takes the field at PNC Park for Opening Day won’t feature many new additions.
With National League MVP Andrew McCutchen leading a mostly-homegrown group that secured an elusive winning season and playoff berth in 2013, more of the same in the spring isn’t a bad thing. Still, with valuable late-season addition Marlon Byrd moving on to Philadelphia and right-hander A.J. Burnett still undecided about retirement, it was reasonable to expect the club to be more aggressive this winter.
That hasn’t happened thus far, a reality illustrated by Phil Roth’s latest interactive MLB payroll chart. As you can see if you follow the link, Pittsburgh has committed about $55 million to the 2014 season, the eighth-lowest figure in baseball according to data mined from Baseball-Reference.com and Cot’s Contracts at Baseball Prospectus.
While that estimated figure is close to larger-market contending teams like Atlanta and Baltimore and ahead of the frugal Rays, the Pirates’ lack of spending this offseason has rankled some fans expecting more after last summer’s breakthrough. There’s still time to add to the 2014 team, of course, and in-season trades to add veterans will likely be in the offing if appropriate.
Another thing to keep in mind is the Pirates will soon be adding the contracts of arbitration-eligible players Pedro Alvarez, Neil Walker, Gaby Sanchez, Mark Melancon, Vin Mazzaro and Travis Snider. Once their 2014 salaries are agreed upon, Pittsburgh’s Opening Day payroll should be somewhere over $70 million, if projections made by MLBTradeRumors.com hold true.
The Pirates had an estimated $67-million payroll to start 2013, the largest in franchise history. Setting a new record alone won’t satisfy some in Pittsburgh, even if that’s consistent with the team’s recent gradual spending increase.
Tags: Pittsburgh Pirates