The Associated Press published a round of documents late Sunday night that show the Pirates, on the verge of their 18th consecutive losing season, are still a highly profitable franchise and have been profitable for many years.
According to the documents, which are now on full display over at Deadspin, the Bucs made an income of nearly $29.4 million in 2007 and 2008 thanks to sources like revenue sharing, television packages, MLB merchandise and the MLB.com website.
That’s not a major sum of money for most professional franchises and it shouldn’t be all that surprising, but the Pirates have operated on a very meager payroll for ages and it certainly appears that they could be spending more.
“The numbers indicate why people are suspecting they’re taking money
from baseball and keeping it — they don’t spend it on the players,” David Berri, president of the North American Association of Sports
Economists, told the Associated Press. “Teams have a choice. They can seek to
maximize winning, what the Yankees do, or you can be the Pirates and
make as much money as you can in your market. The Pirates aren’t trying
The Pirates had baseball’s lowest Opening Day payroll this season — $34.9 million — and are at the very bottom of a bad National League Central division. If anything, perhaps the revelation of these documents will put pressure on the Pittsburgh ownership to lock up young cornerstone players like Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez when it comes time for free agency. Making owners cringe can be a good thing.