With CBA talks underway, access to talent Pirates' biggest concern
February 24, 2016 11:44 AM
Pirates owner Bob Nutting addresses the media this morning in Bradenton, Fla.
Bob Nutting meets with Andrew McCutchen during workouts during spring training in 2015.
By Bill Brink / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
BRADENTON, Fla. — With negotiations likely beginning this spring on a new collective bargaining agreement, the Pirates’ biggest concern is continued access to talent, team chairman Bob Nutting said Wednesday.
“As we look for the reasons we’ve been able to be competitive, we had a commitment for the past many years to infuse talent into the organization every way we can,” Nutting said.
The CBA expires after this season. The Pirates spent more in the amateur draft, a necessary source of good young players for teams with smaller revenue streams, from 2007-11 than any other team. But when the current CBA took effect in 2012, it capped draft and international spending, and instituted penalties for teams that exceeded their allotted draft pool.
Pirates owner Bob Nutting addresses reporters
Pirates owner Bob Nutting talks to the media about the fans and being able to compete in today's market from Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla. (Video by Peter Diana 2/24/2016)
Asked how the negotiations for the next labor agreement might infringe upon access to talent, Nutting said, “There are no specifics that I’m worried about or that would even be appropriate to discuss.”
Because teams with poorer records select earlier in the draft, the bonus values attached to their picks are larger. Teams with bad records, therefore, have more money to spend on the portion of the draft subject to spending limits — all picks in the first 10 rounds, and the portion of any bonus given after the 10th round that exceeds $100,000. Nutting said he was not worried about teams tanking — putting a bad lineup on the field in order to lose more games, get a higher draft pick and have more money to spend.
“We’re not going to be in or anywhere near that game,” he said. “I really try hard not to worry about what other people are doing.”
Nutting addressed the team Wednesday morning at Pirate City before their workout. He said he believes the Pirates can compete with the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs — “I don’t have any concern we’re facing a battle we can’t win” — and that he has faith in his staff.
“We stay connected every offseason,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “It’s not like two weeks before, he sent out a questionnaire to prep. We stay connected from the time the season ends, whether it be a leadership retreat he partakes in, whether it be the scout meetings we were at, there were times he would funnel in and out. He’s always asking questions.”
The Pirates payroll is currently projected to open the season at about $96 million for the 40-man roster, after accounting for the roughly $3 million the Los Angeles Dodgers contributed in the Michael Morse trade. The Pirates finished at $95.9 million in 2015. Asked if general manager Neal Huntington could have spent more if he deemed it necessary, Nutting said, “He does a calculus each time he makes a move to make sure we’re doing everything we can to maximize short-term impact, long-term impact.”
Asked about a future contract extension for Andrew McCutchen, who is still under contractual control for three more years, Nutting said, “We are committed to try to find an opportunity.”
NOTES — Gerrit Cole threw off a mound Wednesday with “no restrictions, no reservations,” head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk said. What the team referred to as inflammation in Cole’s right ribcage had briefly halted his throwing program. … Left-hander Cory Luebke has a strained right hamstring, Tomczyk said, and can throw only off flat ground at this point. Luebke strained the hamstring in fielding drills.
Bill Brink: email@example.com and Twitter @BrinkPG.
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