Frank Coonelly On TV Contracts, Pirates’ Offseason

Pirates president Frank Coonelly spoke at length to 970 ESPN's David Todd earlier this week, and here are a few highlights.

  • During last month's PirateFest, Coonelly told fans that the Pirates' TV contract was in the top half of all Major League teams. To explain that claim, Coonelly didn't tell Todd how much the Pirates' TV deal was worth, but instead spoke generally about TV contracts throughout baseball. "Some of the TV numbers [for other teams' TV deals] that I've seen reported publicly are way overstated," Coonelly said, noting that confidentiality agreements typically prevent either teams or regional sports networks from divulging how much a contract is really worth. Coonelly also said the value of the Pirates' own TV deal with ROOT Sports, which has been reported to be about $18MM per year, has been "grossly understated."
  • Teams will receive "significantly less" than $25-27MM from MLB's national TV contract, at least in 2014, Coonelly says. He mentions that teams may get to that level later in the contract. He also notes that player pensions are a large expense that will come "off the top" of what teams receive.
  • Coonelly also disputes Rockies owner Dick Monfort's look at how his club will spend its national TV money, which came via an article by Troy Renck of the Denver Post. "There were a lot of numbers that I couldn't follow because they made no sense to me, based on national TV money that I know that all the clubs receive."
  • Todd also asked Coonelly about the Pirates' relative lack of spending this offseason. "The game is about putting together a championship-caliber team on the field. It's not about making splashes and headlines in December and January," Coonelly said, citing the examples of the Angels and Marlins making big offseason splashes in recent years and struggling the following seasons. Coonelly cited the Pirates' relatively-unheralded acquisitions of Francisco Liriano and Russell Martin last offseason as evidence that money isn't everything. He also noted the Pirates did not want to sign a high-profile free agent to play right field, because a long-term commitment there would have blocked top prospect Gregory Polanco.

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