The new collective bargaining agreement will eliminate Type A and Type B free agents next year. Fortunately for the Pittsburgh Pirates, the system is still in place this year, as they have four Type B free agents, with the potential to get a few first round compensation picks in the 2012 MLB draft.
In order to get a pick, the Pirates must offer arbitration to their ranked free agents by the end of the day today. If the player declines arbitration and signs elsewhere, the team gets a compensation pick for that player between the first and second rounds of the 2012 draft.
The Pirates already received one pick when Ryan Doumit signed with the Minnesota Twins last week. Doumit was a Type B free agent, and because he signed prior to today’s deadline, he automatically gives the Pirates a pick. Likewise, the Pirates have secured picks for other teams by signing Type B free agents Rod Barajas and Clint Barmes.
The player most likely to receive an offer of arbitration is Derrek Lee. The Pirates want to bring Lee back, and offering him arbitration puts them in a good situation. If Lee accepts, the Pirates get him back at a raise over his $8.5 M total compensation in 2011. If he declines and signs elsewhere, the Pirates get a draft pick. Based on Lee’s lack of desire to play in Pittsburgh it seems more likely that he will fetch a draft pick for the team.
Ryan Ludwick made $6.775 M in 2011, which is the biggest reason he probably won’t see an offer of arbitration. Chris Snyder is in the same situation after receiving $5.75 M in 2011. The Pirates don’t really have needs at outfield and catcher at this point, and Ludwick and Snyder aren’t exactly values at their anticipated arbitration prices. They also would be unlikely to top those offers on the open market, making it more likely that they would accept arbitration.
The only way I see either player getting an offer is if the Pirates can work out an agreement where the player agrees to decline arbitration for the good of the team. That’s been done in the past, but is nothing that can be counted on. I think we can expect one to two draft picks for the Pirates, depending on what Lee’s decision comes down to. Anything more would be a huge bonus.
Players have until December 7th to accept or decline their offers of arbitration.