Let the free agent frenzy begin

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

While the celebration continues in St. Louis, everywhere else fans, players and front office members are bracing for the start of the next part of the yearly baseball cycle. That would, of course, be free agency.

The free agency period officially starts at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, though during these next few days, free agents can only entertain contract offers from the club they were with in 2011. Beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, the free-for-all begins, meaning there will be no restrictions on who can negotiate with who.

What does this mean for the Pirates in the immediate? Well, they have two players — Derrek Lee and Ryan Ludwick — who will become free agents right after midnight tonight. The Pirates have exclusive negotiating windows with both for the next few days, but don’t expect anything to happen during that period. Given the Pirates’ other outfield options, Ludwick is not at the top of the priority list. The Pirates would love for Lee to seriously consider coming back, but the first baseman is certainly going to see what other offers are available before he makes his decision.

Over the next few days, the Pirates will also make official announcements regarding their decision to exercise or buy out particular club options. Chris Snyder, Ryan Doumit, Paul Maholm and Ronny Cedeno all have club options. The only one the Pirates are believed to be considering is Cedeno’s. Once the Pirates decline a club option, that player joins the free agent pool.

Here is a brief overview of the Pirates’ needs and decisions for the upcoming offseason.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

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