Pirates Notebook: Payroll budget going up in 2009
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The Pirates will slightly increase their budget for major league payroll in 2009 from the current $54 million, team president Frank Coonelly said last night.
But that should not be taken to mean, Coonelly stressed, that the figure would be maxed out.
"We're not going to spend just to say we got up to a certain number," Coonelly said. "If we see good baseball investments, the money will be there."
The current budget will not be maxed out. Rather, the team is expected to pay out roughly $51 million, with the $3 million gap between that figure and the budget an almost perfect match for the amount saved by the mid-season trades of Jason Bay, Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte. If the total ends up at $51 million, it will be fourth-lowest amount paid in Major League Baseball this year, and it will be close to the $51,360,907 the Pirates paid last year.
The highest payroll in franchise history was $57.8 million, in 2001 with the opening of PNC Park.
A 2009 budget of more than $54 million leaves the Pirates more flexibility than it might appear, given that roughly $8 million was spent on pitcher Matt Morris after he was released in May. But there will be additional expenses, too, notably the eight players eligible for arbitration.
That includes six first-timers, all of whom will see their salaries go from roughly the major league minimum of $390,000 to four or five times that, or more. They are outfielder Nate McLouth, catcher Ryan Doumit and pitchers Paul Maholm, Zach Duke, Tyler Yates and Denny Bautista.
McLouth and Doumit, the Pirates' best position players this year, are expected to be approached with long-term contract offers. The same might be true of Maholm, their best pitcher, though that is not as certain.
First baseman Adam LaRoche and reliever John Grabow are third-time eligible for arbitration and would get raises on their salaries of $5 million and $1.135 million, respectively.
Coonelly declined to say which players might or might not be tendered arbitration contracts, only that all would be reviewed this fall.
He reiterated that the team will not be a player in the high-end segment of the free-agent market, but added that it expects to look at those in the middle and lower tiers.
The Pirates have five players signed to major league terms for 2009 -- shortstop Jack Wilson ($7.25 million), second baseman Freddy Sanchez ($6.1 million) and pitchers Ian Snell ($3 million), Matt Capps ($2.2 million) and Yoslan Herrera ($400,000) -- for a total of $18.95 million.
• Swelling related to Jeff Karstens' dental procedure Friday pushed back his start from last night to Tuesday against Los Angeles. Jason Davis will come out of the bullpen to pitch today, and Ross Ohlendorf will go tomorrow against the Dodgers.
• Sanchez was back at second base for the first time since blurriness in his right eye forced him from the game Tuesday in Houston. Manager John Russell said the Pirates would monitor Sanchez's eye -- and the bothersome shoulder -- and that "he's not going to play every day."
• Russell affirmed that Maholm will make his final two starts. Even if Maholm pitches two complete games, he would not exceed 212 innings and, according to Russell, the team's goal was to keep him "right around 210."
• Roberto Clemente Day activities, postponed by the rain two nights ago, will be made up Friday.
• Four medallions bearing the No. 21 have been placed on the 21-foot right-field fence that has become known as the Clemente Wall.
First Published September 14, 2008 12:00 am