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The Pirates blew it up over the weekend and not for the last time

Tuesday’s Say Hey, Baseball looks at the Pirates admitting they’re never going to break the cycle.

Detroit Tigers v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Are you a Pirates fan wondering when the cycle of acquiring prospects to be developed into players who will be traded for more prospects simply because veterans cost money is going to end?

Well, principal Pirates owner Bob Nutting has bad news for you, because his answer to that question was, paraphrased, “Never.”

”I think you’d have a fundamental redesign of the economics of baseball; that’s not what we’re going to have,” was Nutting’s actual response.

This belief is how Gerrit Cole was traded to the Astros even though he wasn’t going to be a free agent for another two years. It’s how Andrew McCutchen, one of the greatest Pirates in history, was dealt to the Giants in his final year before free agency...even though his contract amounted to just $14.5 million. That should be a relative pittance in today’s game, especially given his quality 2017 campaign. But it’s instead seen as a contract to overcome.

The Pirates were ranked by Forbes as the 17th-most valuable franchise in MLB at the start of the 2017 season: Their valuation came in at $1.25 billion. Pittsburgh made $265 million in revenue and spent $115 million on players and player expenses.

The Pirates don’t have the greatest television contract in the league by any means, but their deal would have more than covered McCutchen’s contract, especially when you remember it’s all relative thanks to revenue-sharing, anyway. Sure, the Pirates aren’t getting rich off their TV deal, but the Yankees, Giants, Red Sox, and more are helping the Pirates get richer thanks to theirs.

The Pirates are worth a ton of money, even if, within baseball, they’re in the middle of the pack. They have money coming in from revenue-sharing to help offset that they’re in the backend of the middle-third of MLB teams in earnings. If Nutting can’t see a way for the Pirates to consistently succeed despite the fact that the organization is making money, not bleeding it, then someone who either doesn’t mind spending additional cash or has more money to risk should be running the team.

Pittsburgh hugged its prospects so hard to win but didn’t get further than an NLDS appearance by doing so. Now the Pirates have traded the player they should have done more around when he was at his peak, and they’re asking fans to be patient as they start the whole process over again, complaining about the economics of baseball in the process. The Pirates with McCutchen might not have been the joke they used to be, but it didn’t take long for them to become one again after he left.