Wednesday, Forbes released its annual baseball team valuation, and to the surprise of nobody, the Yankees lead the way with a value of $4.6 billion. Also to the surprise of nobody, the Pirates continue to rake in cash under owner Bob Nutting.
The Pirates ranked 20th in the Major Leagues with a $1.275 billion valuation, but the bigger story is the growth since Nutting took over in 2007. Then, the franchise was worth $274 million — 28th in MLB — illustrating a $1 billion leap in his 12 years of ownership.
A breakdown of the methodology used, per Forbes:
Team values are enterprise values (equity plus net debt) that include the economics of the ballpark but exclude the value of real estate itself. We also do not include the equity value of team-owned regional sports networks. The league’s ownership in Major League Baseball Advanced Media (100%), BamTech (15%), the MLB Network (67%) and league’s investment portfolio are included in our values, equally divided among the 30 teams. These three assets constitute over $400 million in value per team.
The Pirates' figures equate to a 365 percent growth. And while the team's $1.275 billion value trails the Yankees considerably, that figure of growth is actually better than the Yankees' 283 percent increase since its $1.2 billion value in 2007.
Per Sportrac, the Pirates' 2019 payroll of $76.6 million is the fourth-lowest in the Major Leagues, a fact that contributes both to fans' anger and to the team's profitability.
Is anybody surprised?
Didn't think so.
Nutting's focus is no secret: He's trying to generate bigger profits each and every year, and that's exactly what he's doing. Fans of the Pirates and fans of baseball in general might not like it, but from a pure business perspective, he's succeeding. Now, whether adding some superstars to the roster could generate even more fan interest and investment remains to be seen. But as long as the Pirates hover around .500 and he's making money, don't expect Nutting to change his ways.