It’s the same old story: the player gets good and then he asks Pittsburgh Pirates management to be paid what he is worth. Rather than paying, the Pirates then trade the player for (low-salaried) “prospects.” If any of these prospects develop into anything marketable, they are then traded for more prospects. Rinse and repeat. This year it is Bryan Reynolds:
As I’ve written in numerous posts, “baseball on the cheap” is Nutting’s business plan for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Along those lines, this past season, Nuttings’ Pirates were 28th out of 30 teams in total payroll. ($48 million compared to the league average of $151 million.)
You don’t need major leaguers to make money; nor do you necessarily need fans in the ballpark
This year’s total Pirate attendance was 1,257,458 which is roughly half of the average for all National League teams. (2,363,497). The Pirate total was also their lowest since 1995. (Not counting the covid seasons.) In the National League, only the Miami Marlins had fewer spectators. Increasingly, however, attendance is becoming less and less important to the bottom line as owners have found a number of other ways to make money. (See these methods, for example.)
Let’s add another non-attendance factor to the mix. Recently, Forbes, which frequently covers the moneymaking aspects of sports, reported on baseball's revenue from streaming services:
Want more evidence that drawing actual fans is not very important to the team’s bottom line? How about the cancelling of Piratesfest – a tradition since 1991 (?) in which current players, old team members, announcers, and sometimes, even Nutting, met the fans hoping that some would buy season tickets or ticket plans. Yes, the event has been cancelled and I could find no explanation why. This is the kind of public relations that might put actual fans in the ballpark -- but why bother?