Pirates To Spend, But Not On Top Free Agents

Team president Frank Coonelly told 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh that the Pirates will "significantly increase" their payroll in 2011, according to Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. They won't double the $44MM payroll they have in 2010, but expect the Pirates to spend a significant amount.

They may boost payroll, but if the Pirates were on Cliff Lee's list of possible 2011 teams, he can probably cross them off. The Pirates still don't plan to build through major free agent acquisitions, according to Kovacevic.

"We're not going to add a No. 1 starter in free agency," GM Neal Huntington said. "We're not going to add a true, major-league power bat in free agency."

Huntington has other ideas and if this week is any indication, the Pirates are putting them in place. The Pirates signed Mexican pitching prospect Luis Heredia and locked up top draft picks Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie to multi-million dollar bonuses. As Taillon explained to Chuck Finder of the Post-Gazette, "that'd be a pretty mean trio right there." 

Now, the Pirates are one loss away from clinching their 18th consecutive losing season and those three right-handers aren't ready to turn the team around yet. We should expect the Pirates to be active in free agency this offseason. Earlier this summer, Coonelly told Kovacevic that he plans to be "aggressive," so the team could look to buy low on free agents, add non-tenders or make other moderate forays into the free agent market.

44 Responses to Pirates To Spend, But Not On Top Free Agents Leave a Reply

  1. Loomer55 5 years ago

    They don’t seem too concerned about building in ANY way, much less through free agency. But I don’t know why this would shock anyone.

    • Are you kidding? The team signs Heredia, Taillon, and Allie this week and “they don’t seem too concerned about building in ANY way”?

      They shouldn’t be buying this offseason anyways, the talent in the minor leagues is a year away for the most part.

      • dc21892 5 years ago

        For the most part the top young players are 2-3 years away AT LEAST. But I could never picture Lee in a Pirates uniform at all. It would be bad for him and he would be miserable there.

        • start_wearing_purple 5 years ago

          Or are already there. Tabata and Alvarez both premiered this year. While neither of them is exactly tearing up the league they’re both still young.

          • dc21892 5 years ago

            I’m clearly talking about the ones they just got and ones that are already there.

          • dc21892 5 years ago

            Already there in the minors that is.

      • Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

        Anytime you sign Allie, Taillon, and Heredia within the course of 1 WEEK, you obviously did something special. I really see the Pirates system shaping up and their lineup plans are obviously here with Alvarez who has been hitting and playing great defensively, McCutch who is clutch, Tabata, and he is a pitcher, but I really really like James McDonald. I think once he got out of the large market Dodgers, he felt much more comfortable.

      • Loomer55 5 years ago

        No, actually I’m not really kidding at all. I’m seen them for years and have absolutely no faith, no matter who they have signed lately, that they have any intention of fielding an actual major league team. Yes, those signings were good. But we’re looking at a team that is perpetually building.

  2. moonraker45 5 years ago

    If I was Cliff Lee I wouldnt care where I went as long as I got a no trade clause.

    • Too bad you aren’t Lee, and what he actually wants is 5-6 Year deal, money and a No-trade clause. I think your pirates struck out on the second thing.

  3. After that next loss, I’m taking the Pirates out. Eighteen is eighteen. It’s not a morality contest.

  4. withpower 5 years ago

    Eventually they are going to have to do it.

    But I suppose that will depend on how quickly their young pitchers reach the majors (if they do at all) and how soon they produce effective results.

    Pedro Alvarez is already like 24. There’s a legit chance that him and guys like McCutcheon become free agents before anyone they drafted this year even cracks the 25-man.

    • you know that Lincoln, Tabata, and Alvarez won’t be free agents until AFTER the 2016 season right? And McCutchen and Walker won’t be free agents until After the 2015 season. If these young pitchers aren’t up by then, than they are pretty much busts…now it might not be till these players 1st or 2nd arb. year that these pitchers make it, but the Pirates are developing a nice young system.

      • withpower 5 years ago

        I’m perfectly aware.

        You aren’t really thinking it through, man. Even if Taillon and these guys are up within 3 years, are they going to be pitching like an ace right from the word go? Possibly. But probably? Obviously you can form your own opinion on this.

        It took Phil Hughes until this year to become the big time starting pitcher the Yankees envisioned. After 3-4 years in the minors and another 3 in the majors. That’s 6-7 years man. At least 2-5 years on the low-end, best case projections.

        I’m just saying.. eventually the checks have to get cut. Either to extend McCutchen and Alvarez, or other bats, or get some real pitchers. It’s a whole lot more complicated than just making sure the names that have been hyped in your local newspaper all get written on the lineup card in the same season.

        • you aren’t thinking it through either. If Morris, Owens, Locke and Wilson can keep it up, they could all be in the majors by 2012.

          That’s when checks should start getting cut, although I m not sure extending Alvarez is an option, with Boras… but McCutchen could be extended if he shows he can keep up the bat while continuing to play solid CF…

          That Pirate team should compete and should clear .500… but there’s no doubt that the system is headed in the right direction. Not sure what they can do about the ETAs of Taillon, Allie, Heredia et al, but they had the right approach in taking the best player available. The only scenarion in which its acceptable to take a closer to the majors player, in this case, someone like Pomeranz or Sale perhaps is if the window of contention is closing fast where you reach a few spots to take someone who can help quicker. You also assume that these guys have no trade value- they have enormous trade value and could be used…

  5. DempseyK 5 years ago

    Neal has done a great job thus far. He might not be willing to spend 20 million for an ace, but that doesnt mean he wont look at a buy low candidate such as a Brandon Webb. Neal needs to catch lightning in a bottle on some type of veteran presence in the starting rotation. And as far as the lineup goes, SS could stand an upgrade.The current bucs lineup will be significantly upgraded through the art of ‘addition by subtraction’.Lastings Millidge will not be getting a another year’s worth of chances. Having him out of the lineup improves it quite a bit. And Doumit will likely be waived, released, or traded in the off season. Its hard to believe he will be in RF next year. If the team sees his current contract as affordable, I wouldnt mind keeping him as a bench player though.Addition by subtraction Neal…addition by subtraction.Brandon Moss, John Bowker, or Jeff Clement will presumably be taking those at-bats. (Most likely beginning September 1st of this season in Lastings case)

    • BLZR 5 years ago

      Looking up and down their lineup, I’m not sure SS is the position I’d be most worried about. I mean Ronny Cedeno is a terrible hitter, but you can kind of get away with having a guy with a .650 OPS at SS if he plays solid enough defense, which Cedeno does. Obviously it’s not ideal, but looking at the other guys playing SS in the NL Central this year Cedeno doesn’t look all that bad. Starlin Castro is clearly better, but the rest are pretty much on the same level. Out of the group of Ronny Cedeno, Orlando Cabrera, Brendan Ryan, and Alcides Escobar, Cedeno might have had the best season this year. SS isn’t an easy position to upgrade.

      The positions they should really be concerned about are 1B and RF. Lastings Milledge isn’t cutting it, and neither is Garrett Jones. There really isn’t one area where you can say Milledge has done well. Doesn’t hit for average, doesn’t hit for power, doesn’t get on base, isn’t a great defender, is a terrible baserunner, etc. Jones had a big rookie season in 2009, but has come back to Earth this year and is hitting near his career minor league numbers. His OBP is dropping dangerously close to .300. Being so far below average offensively at both 1B and RF puts you way further behind than being below average offensively at SS.

  6. Not sure if Hawpe went anywhere yet, but if I’m the Pirates, I’d grab him.

    • the Pirates have no business going near Hawpe… they have enough players to figure out and taking away playing time for Hawpe is silly

  7. it’s like 99.9% obvious that Cliff Lee will go to the yankee’s. They’ll top any offer from any other team, an a super long contract length. Just look at the Yank’s rotation.

    He’s clearly just gonna go to the team that offers the most coin. He’s human afterall.

  8. joeycrist 5 years ago

    The thing is increasing payroll this year coming up is almost stupid to a point where you arent contending and you cant significantly upgrade your roster with fringe free agents though i would like to see Webb or even Correia in a buccos uni. The time to spend is the time to contend, ala brewers, rangers this year… when we are 40 mil away from contending then pounce on the free agent market, until then keep doling out short term deals to dependable if not unspectacular free agents that you can flip into McDonald and Lambo or even bowker and martinez. The more they continue to stock pile prospects the longer they will be competitive. My heart tells me they are moving in the right direction, my head tells me they are moving in the right direction BUT is the coaching and player development on point? Tabata is a great reclaimation project from what we heard of him coming out of ny, alvarez and mccutchen got by on pure talent. Morton has sick stuff and cant put it together why, because of terrible coaching. Russell, Long and the lot need to go the only onfield management i trust in this organization is Dale Sveum. Please find Ray Miller and get him back in black and gold!!!

    • redsandyanksfan 5 years ago

      Webb isnt going to being a Pirate uniform, he’s stated that he wants to play close to home and The reds are closest to that and i think they’ll sign him for a couple different reasons. ! He would reunite with former pitching coach Bryan Price, 2 close to home and 3 He could start and hopefully get back what he had

      • joeycrist 5 years ago

        He doesnt crack the rotation in cincy next year, Bailey, Cueto, Volquez, Wood, and Leake

        • redsandyanksfan 5 years ago

          Dually noted ,but if Webb can return to how he was before injured then i would happily let start then Homer Bailey, And i hope Volquez is completely recovered next year and throw the ball like that 17 game winner he was.

          • joeycrist 5 years ago

            I think the reds want to give homer bailey one fair shake at a season before writing him off, he was a very highly touted prospect but great american is a disaster to pitch in. If healthy and seasoned bailey may become as consistent as bronson arroyo has been for them over the years. The main problem i have is webb is a sinkerball pitcher that doesnt get the ground outs to go with it if they can get that ball elevated he is dead meat in GA

          • redsandyanksfan 5 years ago

            Oh trust me i know about Homer Bailey one minute he looks like a future ace and the next he looks like a long reliever.But i honestly think coach Price can work out the kinks with Webb if he proves hes healthy and we need a sinkerballer in this park but that snikers gotta be working or your right hes dead

    • louis_09 5 years ago

      joeycrist: Ray Miller? Ray couldn’t cut it in Baltimore after he left Pittsburgh. When the level of talent he had went down, so did the results — that said, it wasn’t his ability at all.

  9. joeycrist 5 years ago

    ray miller made john smiley and bob walk more than servicable pitchers and turned doug drabek into a back to back cy young winner. He was burnt out when he left pittsburgh and has even gone on to say he wished he wouldve retired in 1993. I just wish we had someone better than the rinky dink coaching staff we have now, they have a better coaching staff at rice and the university of miami. Leo mazzone is a better name in that instance for your benefit lazo!

    • louis_09 5 years ago

      joeycrist: I am 100% on board with needing to rid ourselves of Russell & Long. I was simply making a statement that Ray Miller is NOT a guy I’d want back. We just waited WAY TOO LONG to get rid of Kerrigan, and hopefully the damage he left isn’t permanent on some of these pitchers.

      Leo Mazzone is a great example — you or I could have been a pitching coach for Smoltz/Maddux/Glavine and crew…and won some NL crowns.

  10. joeycrist 5 years ago

    And while there is a pirates post to rant on thats alive and well, I read that the pirates should compete with big market teams on international free agents. This would almost be as false as false could be except for one exception that history lends it hand to, Roberto. In latin america, roberto clemente is their barry bonds, or babe ruth/hank aaron for all you roid haters ( sidebar barry is the best pure hitter ever, roids or no roids hand eye coordination was off the charts) this can be used to lure players that are on the fence and give them a sense of pride in their heritage. This was one of our assets last season with Sano but unfortunately his agent didnt like mr clemente. But this pirates franchise can be bashed by everyone but this guy likes what he sees so far……… still need to fire JR

  11. Slopeboy 5 years ago

    You long suffering and loyal Pirates fans beware!! Cooney and Huntington are setting you up for the baseball scam of 2011. For the last number of years the Pirates have averaged 1.6 mil in attendance and a payroll that is peanuts when compared with the vast majority of MLB clubs. Along with the monies from the ‘Luxury Tax’ and gate receipts, the Pirates don’t win but have been assured of a profit. Now with the declaration of ‘significant increase’ in payroll they are looking to con everyone.Notice how quickly they made it clear that they are not going after big name FA ,but middle tier agents. All that really is an attempt to avoid the heat from taking Luxury Tax money and putting it in their pockets. The Marlins did that last year by giving Josh Johnson big money so he would not walk and nothing else. They increased the payroll to appease the fans and MLB but basically stood pat. Now Pittsburgh is copying the page. This has been their methodology all these years, Nady, Hinske, Bay, Marte, McClouth and Capps to name a few, have been traded to several teams for cheap minor leaguers and cash. Most of the guys they’ve received are still earning cheap salaries and are not eligible for arbitration yet. The good players they’ve drafted this year will play in their system for a few years and will be sold off or traded when they’re ready to play and earn big money in the majors.Watch them quietly come out with a small increase in ticket prices this coming winter to play for the Free Agents they sign. Look for the Pirates to fight tooth and nail againist the Astros for 5th Place in the NL central.

    • Loomer55 5 years ago

      Thank you. The same thing I was getting at but much more eloquently stated.

    • jwredsox 5 years ago

      The problem with the names you said is that none of them (outside Bay) is player you build a championship team around.

    • Your tinfoil hat appears to be a little too tight.

      Are you Bob Smizik?

    • Vote_For_Pedro 5 years ago

      Listen very closely thats the sound of an ignorant boob.Do you realize what you are saying? The pirates suck because Nutting dosent spend alot of money well… BOO WHO!!! Why do they need to get a type A FA if they are going to possibly lose 100 games that season? The Padres have about the same payroll as the Pirates and what did they do? They got ridd of Jake Peavey 2007 Cy Young Awardie and everyone thought what are they thinking? Well look at them now they built up a championship contending team with WHAT? PITCHING AND DEFENSE not just crushing homers.So yes i think the bucos will have a similar thing happen when the three studs Taillon, Allie, and Heredia come up in 3-5 years.Using Phil Hughes as an example of how a young pitcher progresses is awful.All three are believed to be better and have better talent then Hughes will ever have.Why cant they progress like a Tommy Hunter or Mike Leake?Can you tell me that Slopeboy?I almost forgot he has only been GM 3 effin years now. Thats plenty of time to rebuild an entire organization from a last place hole into a winning one.And one more thing DRAYS 07- RAYS 08 Worst to First.

      • Slopeboy 5 years ago

        You don’t seem to understand my original point. The Pirate owners are not interested in winning. The are interested in making money. Every year they talk about the great minor leaguers they have in their system and how in the near future they’re going to turn things around. Then they trade them for players who make less money along with cash. I’m glad you believe, and most likely have been believing for the last 18 years. I hope you’re right and these guys turn out to be studs… more importantly, that there still in the organization in 3-5 years from now.

        • Loomer55 5 years ago

          This is spot on. No matter who the Pirates sign, they have no interest in fielding an actual major league team. This has been demonstrated for the last eighteen years. It’s unfortunate but it’s also the truth. There is not only zero interest in winning, there is zero interest in fielding even a somewhat competent team. IF this is actually a sign of a change in the way the team will operate, great. I do not believe it, though.

  12. joeycrist 5 years ago

    yeah but the thing is other than capps which netted ramos, still stunned about that, all of those other guys stink now. They are all below average major leaguers so you can say what you will but other than capps im glad we got what we got for those guys, anddd dotel netted a pretty good return of his own which we prolly wouldnt have gotten for capps if he was a pirate.

    • Slopeboy 5 years ago

      What I will say is that its not always about the individual as it is about team and results. Especially in this case. They may be below average major leaguers individually but they have two things going for them. Rings or the chance to get them. Hinske has three with three teams. He Helped NY win the series last year. This guy is a winner and knows how to go about winning, he could help a young player learn to go about winning. This year he’s with Atlanta, with a new contract and another chance for ring.
      Marte was lights out for NY during the post season, got a new contract and a ring to go with it.Nady was the starting RF for NY before he blew out his elbow,in a contract year. He played well for the Pirates before he went to NY, got a new contract and by the way, a ring. McClouth has had a bad year with Atlanta, lost his job, but is coming off the bench to help in the playoff push in pursuit of a ring. Bay is having a bad year playing for the Mets in a bigger park than Fenway,with a big contract and was recently hurt. Look at the past two years after leaving Pittsburgh and you’ll see that he was a big help for the Sox, getting them to the playoffs twice. The jury is still out on capps, but he also is playing with a team that has a chance for a ring. The Pirates got average players waiting for managemant to bring in more average players at a low price. Good Luck !!

      • Hinske is a below average baseball player. I dare say that Manny, Beckett, Arod and Rivera won rings. Hinske was just on the team. Nady played in like 10 games for the 09 Yankees. These players are winning rings being in the right place at the right time. McLouth is sitting in AAA.

  13. If the Pirates sign players finally, they might go after someone who has success in their stadium. Watch for Ankiel go go to Pittsburgh.

    • Vote_For_Pedro 5 years ago

      I do not think that is happening. They could have signed Ankiel this year but he was not guaranteed a starting spot on the team while Church was happy to be a back up.

  14. Slopeboy 5 years ago

    Look Out here come the Pirates !!!! They just got Jesus Feliciano from the Mets. Thats the start of their aggresive stance into the FA market.

    Hope this Jesus can walk on water

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