PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) – The Pirates final active-roster payroll for 2022 was $30.47 million. According to spotrac.com, only the Reds and Orioles were less and overall the Bucs were 27th in Major League Baseball, worst in the National League.
Pirates GM Ben Cherington had his end-of-the-season media gathering on Friday and asked if payroll will increase.
“I don’t know what the payroll is going to be,” said a diplomatic Cherington, who went on to explain they are just getting into their offseason planning-where the team is now, where they want to improve, the ‘realistic opportunities that make sense for the Pirates’. He said that will determine what payroll will end up.
Pressed on the ‘realistic opportunities’ part, Cherington said they have to look how any move would improve the team and also fit into their longer-term team building strategy. He says that’s not specific to payroll or dollars.
The former Red Sox World Series champion GM says to look at his plan rather than the money spent on players.
“I don’t believe focusing on payroll is the right thing to focus on in a town like Pittsburgh,” Cherington said. “In a place where a winning team isn’t going to be built like it is in other places. It’s not the thing we think about.”
“It’s not what we focus on. It’s up to us to execute a strategy, a team-building process that builds a winning team in a way that you have to do it in a place like Pittsburgh. That’s being done in other places, we see models of that right now in the playoffs.”
Cherington said even though the franchise is improving overall, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t get upset at current results. However, he called the support the front office gets as ‘incredible’ from owner Pirates majority owner Bob Nutting.
“This is a difficult process that we are going through,” Cherington said. “It’s not less difficult for Bob or anyone else with the Pirates. The things we are doing on the field are coming from our own recommendations in baseball operations. Bob and (Team President) Travis (Williams) have been incredibly supportive of that every step of the way, even though it’s been really hard for everybody including Bob and Travis to go through the times we are going through. They have been so supportive because they believe there are better days ahead.”
“As difficult as this has been, it’s an investment in better days ahead. I believe we have the support in that way and also with resources. Obviously, there are different ways to use the resources. I really do believe the resources are there, will be there to do what we need to do to win.”
Cherington said he will talk with key younger players about long-term contracts, more likely closer to when Spring Training begins. He will look at free agents and said it is likely they would sign a veteran pitcher to a multi-year deal, which would be a change from the series of reclamation projects of recent seasons.
But when? When will we see it all come together?
Cherington won’t give a date.
“Every day, the window is opening,” Cherington said. “We ought to be pushing that every day so it gets here as fast as it possibly can and in a way where it can stay open for as long as possible.
And then, I don't know. We focus on is the everyday part of it.”
“There are examples across the league. There are really good teams that took a little bit longer to get there because of some circumstance. It’s never a straight line. You have setbacks, you have injuries, you have things that don't work perfectly.”
“There are some teams that it has not happened for. We're gonna work our tails off to avoid that.”
“But I don't know. We think about the window opening every day. ’What’s the window today to get better so that the outcomes get better as fast as we possibly can?’ Just as important, how do we work so when we get to that, we can keep it open for as long as we can?”
“We look at teams that are in similar situations that have been able to do that and what are they doing after they start wanting to keep it going? That's just as critical as what we're doing now.”
“I really believe we have the resources to win. Once we start winning, we will be able to sustain that. It’s up to us to execute that.”
Cherington is taking it off Nutting and putting it on his shoulders.
The clock is ticking, patience is thin and these glimpses need to turn into results soon.