Coonelly open to extensions for GM, manager
Share with others:
CINCINNATI -- The Pirates will raise payroll by an undisclosed amount for 2010, are open to offering extensions to general manager Neal Huntington and manager John Russell beyond next year, and have not yet decided about keeping single-game ticket prices level, team president Frank Coonelly said yesterday.
The payroll for the current roster, assuming no additions and raises for existing players, projects to be $28 million for opening day 2010. The payroll ceiling for the season that ended yesterday was $55 million, roughly double that.
Coonelly pledged that payroll "will be above the $28 million range" but did not get more specific.
"We have meaningful payroll flexibility to add players through the free agent and/or trade markets," he said. "There are certain positions where we will evaluate our external options, as well as our internal options. This is a relatively weak free-agent class. Nevertheless, there are several players who would be of interest to us if they become free agents."
Bud Selig, commissioner of Major League Baseball, told the Post-Gazette last week that he expects the Pirates' payroll to increase "a lot" over $28 million.
Huntington said earlier in the week that the Pirates would prefer not to give out their payroll ceiling figure because it gives leverage to players' agents and creates expectations that the team must achieve that figure rather than spending the money where appropriate.
Coonelly was asked yesterday: If the Pirates are putting money saved on major league payroll back into baseball operations, how to explain spending $1.2 million below their draft budget, then not signing elite Dominican prospect Miguel Angel Sano?
Sano signed last week with the Minnesota Twins for a $3.15 million bonus. The Pirates' highest offer was $2.6 million.
"Signing Sano would have put us over our international budget, but we were willing to go over budget for the player," Coonelly said. "The international signing season may not be done yet, but, if it is, we will be slightly under budget there. The limited dollars not spent on the amateur side this year will be applied to those budgets next year."
Huntington and Russell each is under contract through 2010, but it is uncommon for a general manager or manager to have a lame-duck year.
"I do not like to discuss contract length with regards to our staff because if leads to speculation that decisions are made to save one's job," Coonelly said. "It is my expectation that both Neal and JR will be with the organization beyond 2010."
Coonelly said last month that season-ticket prices will remain unchanged an eighth consecutive year -- one of the longest such streaks in professional sports -- and it is believed the same will be true of single-game prices, but Coonelly would not confirm.
"We will be sending out our season-ticket renewal packages within the next two weeks," he said. "We will announce individual pricing shortly after that."
First Published October 5, 2009 12:00 am