DK'S GRIND

Kovacevic: A plan to pair with Pirates’ low payroll?

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Clay Holmes signs for a young fan Thursday night at PNC Park. - ALEX STUMPF / DKPS

The payroll's too low.

There. I said it. Yet again, for maybe the millionth year in a row.

And this is coming from someone who's stressed in every one of those years that payroll isn't anywhere near as pertinent to the Pirates' fortunes as most in the public seem to make it. But in the same breath, I'll add that it does still matter. Because both things really can be true.

As things currently stand, the 26-man payroll when the club emerges from the dugout March 26 in St. Petersburg, Fla., projects to be -- sit down for this -- $59,148,500.

Yeah, really. And I'm neither guessing, nor sharing some super-inside info.

The 15 players currently signed to major-league contracts total $58,298,500 in 2020 salaries. Since it appears the final 11 roster spots will be filled by players being paid at or near the new major-league minimum wage of $583,500 -- and rounding that up to $600,000 in realistic anticipation of modest raises for some -- that adds another $6.6 million, so now it's up to $64,898,500.

But wait: Felipe Vazquez's $5.75 million formally counts toward payroll, but there's zero chance a penny of it'll be paid, since he'll again be placed on the restricted list. So that money can't reasonably be counted toward this purpose.

Which is where we arrive at the aforementioned figure of $59,148,500.

Which is insanely low.

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