Today is the day that teams and players exchange contract numbers in advance of the arbitration process that starts on the first of the month. After the numbers get exchanged today, they have until the day of the hearing (sometime between February 1 and 21) to agree to a contract, otherwise they go to the hearing.
The Pirates only have two arbitration-eligibles this year — Joel Hanrahan and Ross Ohlendorf — and they’re both in their first year of the process so there’s not likely to be much going on here in terms of animosity or salary escalation. Still, since it’s a slow day and I’m in the middle of updating my process list, let’s take a couple minutes to figure out what kind of salary these guys might pull in this year.
Hanrahan made $453,000 last year. His most similar comp on Baseball-Reference is Brian Bruney, who made $1.25 million in his first year of arbitration. I wouldn’t expect Hanrahan to make much more than that, though his agent will likely point out that Hanrahan is the leading candidate to be the Pirates’ closer this year. Of course, the Pirates haven’t named a closer yet and this process is probably why. Hanrahan’s high strikeout rate makes him more or less the obvious choice, especially because Evan Meek’s great ground ball numbers make him the guy you want to bring into the middle of an inning with a guy on first, if necessary (insert standard disclaimer about how I think closers are stupid and I’d use the two interchangeably but I doubt Clint Hurdle will do that and whatever, it’s not even a big deal anyways). Of course, Hanrahan blew up in the closer’s role for Washington in 2009 and … you can see how this would get ugly fast. I don’t think the Pirates want that with Hanrahan, so I’d guess he signs for between $1 and $1.5 million, maybe just a smidge higher.
Ohlendorf is a little bit of a different case because of his status as a Super-Two, which means he gets an extra year of arbitration. Zach Duke made about $2.2 million in his first arbitration year, Paul Maholm made $2 million base salary with a signing bonus (Baseball-Reference lists him at $2.5 million for 2009) for his three-year deal to avoid any arbitration years. I’m guessing the Pirates will try pretty hard to keep him under $2 million, though, given the escalating nature of arbitration. As usual, it’s best to hope that neither case gets to arbitration because when they do, things tend to get nasty.