The Pirates' opening-day payroll of $35.4 million will be the lowest in Major League Baseball, marking the first time they have held that distinction in 14 years.
The payroll will be the lowest at a season's outset since 2004, when it was $32.2 million. The previous edition to be the lowest in the majors was the "Freak Show" collection in 1997 that contended despite starting with a $9.07 million payroll.
The San Diego Padres will be second-lowest this season at $38.5 million, and the Florida Marlins will be third-lowest at $46.1 million, according to sources in those cities Sunday. The Marlins were the lowest last year at $36.8 million.
The Post-Gazette's tabulation of the Pirates' opening payroll, following completion of the 25-man roster Sunday, added the full-season salaries of all active players, plus injured relievers Joel Hanrahan and Jose Ascanio on the disabled list, plus the $2 million owed to infielder Ramon Vazquez, who was designated for assignment in the morning.
The opening payroll last year was $48.7 million.
Despite several trades in the summer that lowered the team's costs by $7.3 million, the Pirates ended up paying $49 million by season's end. That figure, as compiled by official MLB accounting standards, is far more meaningful than the opening figure because it is the amount the team actually paid all year to its players. It includes the full 40-man roster, all minor-league callups, all acquistions and subtractions??and all bonuses.
The Pirates' final figure this year, team president Frank Coonelly has said, is sure to end up markedly higher than the opening payroll.