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How low can the Pirates payroll get in 2020?

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MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Pittsburgh Pirates Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

I just thought of a really great game. It’s called, “How much money can Bob Nutting not spend in 2020?!” Oozing with fun, I know.

In all seriousness, the Pittsburgh Pirates have a chance to have a laughably low player payroll in 2020. Like, even more laughably low than usual.

Spotrac.com has the Pirates’ current payroll projected at just over $61 million in 2020. These figures include arbitration estimates and club options, which at the moment, make up about 60 percent of the team. The other 40 percent will likely be made up of pre-arbitration players, which Spotrac currently does not account for. We can estimate an additional $8 million or so added to the payroll to account for those guys. It should also be noted that this list also includes Felipe Vazquez’s $5.75 million salary which will more than likely be voided.

So yeah, let’s say the current but not actually current payroll sits around $62-63 million.

How low can payroll go?

Obviously the club options of Starling Marte ($11.5 million) and Chris Archer ($8.25 million) hold a lot of water. I presume both options will be picked up but these two players could be traded if the Pirates choose to rip it down.

*Side note: It would be nice if the Pirates actually had a real person running their baseball operations at the moment. Not a guy that will be more than likely fired once the real GM is hired. Sorry Kevin Graves.

Anyways, there’s $19.75 million that could easily be slashed away. We now sit at about $42 million.

Gregory Polanco will make $8.6 million in 2020. He could potentially be traded, but his value is tremendously low at the moment, so I don’t see that happening. If he comes back strong in 2020, he could be an interesting trade deadline asset.

Josh Bell is projected to make just under $6 million in 2020. With three years left of team control, the power hitting first baseman would net a nice return in a trade. Lower that payroll to $36 million.

The only other potential trade assets on this team that make actual money are Joe Musgrove and Keone Kela. They are each estimated to make about $3.5 million in arbitration. Cut another $7 million. We sit at $29 million.

Now I know what you’re thinking. How could they trade these players and not take on any salary in return? If the Pirates actually traded all of these guys, it would obviously mean the new front office regime, wherever they are, took the route of tearing this thing down to the ground. The return in the deals would consist of prospects, most likely not major league ready. The five guys traded away would be backfilled with replacement level muck. We can add another $5 million to account for those guys.

How low can the Pirates payroll realistically get in 2020 if they choose to rips things down?

Let’s say about $34 million.

The last time the Pirates had a payroll that low?

2010!