Financial documents show Pirates could spend more

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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
to win.”

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.

Report: Yankees could be in on Nolan Arenado

Nolan Arenado
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The Yankees appear to have moved on from free agent Manny Machado this winter, but could they be turning their attention to Rockies superstar Nolan Arenado? That’s the idea floated by Andy Martino of SNY, who hears that GM Brian Cashman has been involved in recent discussions concerning the third baseman. No official comments have been made to the press yet, though, and it’s not clear whether the Yankees would prefer to pursue Arenado prior to the 2019 season or partway through it.

The 27-year-old infielder earned his fourth consecutive All-Star nomination, Silver Slugger, and Gold Glove award in 2018 after slashing .297/.374/.561 with 38 home runs, a .935 OPS, and 5.7 fWAR across 673 plate appearances. There’s no question he’s provided immense value to Colorado’s lineup over the last half-decade, and his consistency and incredible power at the plate helped form the basis of the record $30 million arbitration figure he presented to the team last week. The Rockies countered at $24 million, however, and in doing so may have jeopardized their chances of convincing the infielder to forego free agency in 2020 and take a long-term deal instead.

Assuming he declines to negotiate an extension with the Rockies, Arenado’s decorated résumé and career-best 2018 numbers should attract plenty of interest around the league — a reality that could put considerable pressure on the Yankees (or any other interested party) to finesse a deal sooner rather than later. For now, the club is prepared to enter the 2019 season with hot-hitting third baseman Miguel Andújar, whom Martino speculates would be the “centerpiece” of any trade with Colorado.