First Pitch: Pittsburgh Pirates 2020/2021 Offseason Primer

With the World Series coming to an end Tuesday night, the 2020/2021 offseason officially has begun.  Here is a quick primer of all of the offseason topics.

40-Man Rosters

Teams must reinstate players from the 60-day injured list no later than five days after the end of the World Series, getting their rosters down to 40-men.  The deadline this year is on Sunday.  The Pittsburgh Pirates have ten players on the 60-day injured list and one open spot on the 40-man.

Here are the players who are on the IL: Chris Archer, Nick Burdi, Michael Feliz, Clay Holmes, Yacksel Rios, Jameson Taillon, Luke Maile, Phillip Evans, Anthony Alford, Kevin Kramer

The Pirates will need up to nine roster spots to retain everyone, although some guys might be early non-tender decisions, or declined options in the case of Archer.

Teams must also make decisions on option years no later than 11:59 PM EST on Friday night. The Pirates have decisions to make on the following players:

Chris Archer – $11 M club option, $0.25 M buyout

It wouldn’t be a bad move to keep Archer as a reclamation guy, knowing that it would be difficult to get someone with his former upside for less money. The option price is high, and his injury puts his future in question. In terms of market price, there might be a fair deal here, and an opportunity to have a trade chip at the deadline if Archer rebounds. Still, I expect Archer to be non-tendered.

November 20th marks the deadline for teams to set their 40-man rosters for the 2020 Rule 5 draft. Teams can make changes to the 40-man roster after November 20th, although they can’t add any new internal players to the roster between November 20th and the 2020 Rule 5 draft, held on December 10th.

Arbitration Eligible Players

Teams have until December 2nd to tender offers to their arbitration eligible players for the 2021 season.  The Pirates have 19 players who are eligible for salary arbitration this year. Here are the players, and their projected arbitration prices, according to MLBTR:

Josh Bell – $5,700,000

Steven Brault – $1,500,000

Nick Burdi – $600,000

Kyle Crick – $800,000

Michael Feliz – $1,100,000

Adam Frazier – $3,700,000

Erik Gonzalez – $1,200,000

Chad Kuhl – $1,400,000

Luke Maile – $900,000

Colin Moran – $1,900,000

Joe Musgrove – $3,400,000

Jose Osuna – $1,100,000

Richard Rodriguez – $1,100,000

Jacob Stallings – $1,000,000

Chris Stratton – $800,000

Jameson Taillon – $2,300,000

Trevor Williams – $3,500,000

John Ryan Murphy – $600,000

Nick Tropeano – $700,000

Once offers are tendered, the two sides (the team and the player) will work to reach an agreement.  If no agreement can be reached, the two sides file for arbitration, during the first two weeks of January. Once they file for arbitration, the two sides exchange salary figures around the third week of January, and have their salary arbitration hearing during the first three weeks of February. The sides can reach a deal outside of the arbitration process at any time before the actual hearing, even immediately before the scheduled hearing.

If the negotiations do reach the hearing, both sides will argue their case for the salary they submitted, and the three person arbitration panel will determine which salary is more appropriate for the player. All decisions made by the panel are final, although the club and the player are free to re-negotiate the deal.

Free Agency

October 28th at 12:01 AM EST marks the beginning of a five-day period in which teams retain exclusive negotiating rights with their players who qualify for free agency.  The Pirates have two players who qualify for free agency: Keone Kela and Derek Holland. Pending free agents can have general discussions with other clubs during this five-day period, but can’t discuss contract details or sign with a new team until 12:01 AM EST, November 2nd.

The big topic during this period will be the qualifying offers for the pending free agents. Teams have five days to decide if they will make a qualifying offer to departing free agents. This year the offer is $18.9 M for one year. If the player accepts that offer, the team gets him for the 2021 season on that deal. If the player declines and signs with another team, the former team gets a draft pick in the 2021 draft.

The Pirates won’t have a decision to make with Kela or Holland.

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