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Pirates owner Nutting hints at payroll spike, extensions for 2014

| Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013, 8:09 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates owner Bob Nutting talks with Andrew McCutchen in the dugout before the final regular season game at PNC Park.

Pirates owner Bob Nutting discussed payroll expectations, a desire to retain A.J. Burnett, and the contract status of general manager Neal Huntington and manager Clint Hurdle in a radio interview Tuesday.

The Pirates' $66 million Opening Day payroll ranked 27th in baseball in 2013, but that number is expected to significantly increase next season.

Not only will each major league club accrue tens of millions in additional national television dollars, but the Pirates increased their attendance by nearly 300,000 — including three postseason games — and the club also has announced a ticket price increase for next season.

“I think what we've seen the last several years, without losing focus on our development system … is we've been able to increase our commitment to major league payroll,” Nutting said on radio station 93.7 The Fan. “I certainly would like to see that continue as we move forward. It's far too early in the process for us, internally, to pick a number (for 2014) and certainly not one we are going to talk about at this time.”

A payroll spike might be necessarily to keep free-agent pitcher A.J. Burnett from retiring or signing elsewhere.

“Personally, I'd love to see him back,” Nutting said.

While Burnett's status for 2014 is unclear, Huntington and Hurdle also are approaching the end of their contracts. Each is signed for 2014 with a club option for 2015.

The Pirates owner addressed whether they will be offered extensions during the offseason.

“It's premature to have a discussion,” Nutting said. “I don't like speculating about individuals. Right now, the feeling inside and outside the organization is very positive, very strong for both those guys. Whether it's a Manager of the Year candidate (Hurdle) or an Executive of the Year candidate (Huntington). Both had extraordinary seasons.”

Travis Sawchik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at tsawchik@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Sawchik_Trib.

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