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This article is free for anyone to read, but please consider becoming a Patreon subscriber to gain access to the rest of my work and allow me to keep writing posts like this one.
The Pirates have, somewhat quietly, been one of the worst parts of the last two horrid offseasons for players. A year ago, they claimed attendance drops had “a meaningful impact on how we can build a roster in 2018.” For some reason, they felt the solution to those attendance issues involved trading talented, arbitration-eligible starter Gerrit Cole to the Astros for a bleak return, while also sending the most popular player of his era in Pirates’ history, Andrew McCutchen, to the Giants. Oh, Pittsburgh also didn’t sign a single free agent the entire offseason, but denied that they were doing anything but trying to remain competitive.
Don’t worry, there’s another reason to be upset about all of that, in case that wasn’t enough: all of this was done in the same offseason that every team was getting at least a $50 million check from Disney for the sale of BAMTech. That $50 million would have covered the last year of McCutchen’s deal, Cole’s 2018, and a whole lot more. You know, the kinds of things that might have made for a more intriguing Pirates’ team, an actually competitive one, and not led to their worst attendance figures since 1996, which was also the the third-worst attendance in MLB. All of this just three years after they had their highest single-season attendance ever, too.