There is a story on the Pirates’ website that has an intriguing quote from Neal Huntington:
As we have said from Day 1, the decisions that we have made about payroll have been baseball decisions. We wanted to go with younger players. We wanted to trade free agents to add depth into the system. As this club matures, the payroll of this club will increase. It may not increase at the pace that everyone wants it to in the same way that the progression of our wins and losses have not. We’re going to non-tender some players that people don’t want us to non-tender. We’re going to tender some players that probably surprise some people. But those are the business decisions that we have to make. Every year, arbitration is going to organically drive up payroll higher.
My first question when I read this was, “What the hell does this even mean?” After about an hour of thinking about it, I still have no clue what the hell it means. However, I still believe what he’s saying is that he’s going to non-tender good players and offer an ungodly amount of money to terrible players. In other words, he is going to keep doing what he has been doing for the past 4 years. Ross Ohlendorf is probably going to get $2.5-3MM if we do tender him, and Huntington will probably tender him.
In terms of free agents, what does it really mean? Does it mean that they will not be going after any free agents? We already know that the Buccos aren’t going after big-namers like Pujols and Fielder, as much as we hate having them in our division, but will we go after free agents that some will deem unnecessary or just because of the unwritten MLBPA rule, a la Lyle Overhaul and Matt “Singles Line” Diaz? I guess that we’ll have to wait and see, but I’m not going to expect anything unlike what we’ve done in previous years, in the form of signing a mediocre first baseman to a huge contract, getting rid of him midseason, then wondering why we can’t have any position strength there despite having a solid 1B in AAA that may or may not have the same results in the MLB level.