Pirates.com reporter Jenifer Langosch writes that she thinks the Pirates will offer arbitration to Derrek Lee, and they want to re-sign him as well.â†µ
Lee probably represents the lowest risk, and I’d expect the Pirates to offer him arbitration. Lee seems unlikely to accept it, and if he did, the Pirates would be pleased to have him back. The club is already trying to re-sign him.â†µ
Like many players, Lee has never seemed especially enthusiastic about playing in Pittsburgh, so I'd be surprised if they were able to re-sign him. Still, though, it would be encouraging if they were to offer him arbitration, in that they would at least have a shot at a free supplemental-round draft pick if he were to sign somewhere else. The Pirates never, ever get supplemental-round picks for free agents, even though the existence of such picks is supposed to help compensate franchises like the Pirates for developing young players who are later signed as free agents by other, presumably richer, teams.â†µ
Langosch's post contains a good rundown of the way the free agent / arbitration system works, but essentially, I think the Pirates would do well to offer arbitration to Lee and Ryan Doumit, and to decline it for Ryan Ludwick and Chris Snyder (since there is too great a risk Ludwick and Snyder will take it, which would force the Pirates to pay them more than they're worth). All four players are currently free agents who could bring back draft picks, depending on the Pirates' actions and where those players end up signing.