Free agency began at 12:01 AM EST today, and 148 players have filed for free agency, including two members of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Those members are Derrek Lee and Ryan Ludwick, the only two eligible players from the Pirates’ roster. Neither move is a surprise, as it is standard procedure for a free agent to file on this date.
The Pirates have five days to exclusively negotiate with Lee and Ludwick. At 12:01 AM on Thursday they can start negotiating with other teams. They can have discussions with other teams between now and then, although no monetary figures can be exchanged. The Pirates are interested in bringing Lee back, although the interest in him returning might not be mutual.
Both players qualify as Type B free agents, which means the Pirates could get a draft pick in the 2012 draft for each player. The Pirates would have to offer each player arbitration by November 23rd. If the player accepts, they’d be a member of the 2012 team, and their salary would be determined by the arbitration process. If the player declines, they would remain a free agent, and the Pirates would receive a first round compensation pick if they signed a major league deal elsewhere.
It’s unlikely that Ludwick would land a pick, as the arbitration price would land him a raise over his $6.775 M salary in 2011. Since he would be unlikely to receive more on the open market, he’d be a risk to accept arbitration, which wouldn’t be good for the Pirates. Their 2012 outfield projects to be Andrew McCutchen, Jose Tabata, and Alex Presley, which would make Ludwick a $7 M bench player.
Lee, on the other hand, could land a pick, as the Pirates want him back and wouldn’t be risking as much if he accepted arbitration. Under arbitration he’d receive a raise over his $8.5 M total compensation from the 2011 season, which wouldn’t be a bad price for his production. If he declined and signed elsewhere, the Pirates would get a compensation pick.
The Pirates hold options for Ryan Doumit, Chris Snyder, Paul Maholm, and Ronny Cedeno. The deadline for those option year decisions must come by 11:59 PM EST on Monday night. The Pirates are expected to decline the options of Doumit, Snyder, and Maholm, while Ronny Cedeno is a candidate to be picked up. If the options are declined, the players would become free agents, and the Pirates would retain exclusive negotiating rights through Wednesday. In the cases of Doumit and Snyder, the Pirates could receive draft pick compensation, as long as they offer arbitration by November 23rd and the other side declines and signs elsewhere.