The Pirates went to work on their arbitration-eligible players Friday, signing reliever Chris Resop to a one-year, $850,000 contract, according to a source.
That leaves six arbitration-eligible players remaining.
The team and the players must exchange their desired salaries by Tuesday, although they can continue to negotiate after that time.
"The number that you file kind of impacts the negotiations," general manager Neal Huntington said earlier this week.
The right-handed Resop, 29, appeared in 76 games for the Pirates in 2011, striking out 79 in 692/3 innings.
He made $431,500 last season. The Pirates claimed him off waivers from the Atlanta Braves in August 2010.
Joel Hanrahan, Evan Meek, Charlie Morton, Jeff Karstens and Casey McGehee all have at least three but less than six years of major league service time, making them eligible for arbitration.
Garrett Jones qualifies as a "Super 2," meaning he ranked in the top 17 percent, in terms of service time, of players with at least two years in the majors.
Each side must submit a desired salary by Tuesday. If they can't agree on a contract, the case goes before a three-person panel, which assigns a one-year, non-guaranteed contract at one amount or the other. The hearings will be Feb. 1-21 in St. Petersburg, Fla.
"There are situations where you file a number and that number's conducive to negotiations," Huntington said. "We want to take a case-by-case look at each situation."
After the '10 season, the Pirates lost an arbitration case to Ross Ohlendorf, who was awarded a $2,025,000 salary despite a 1-11 record and a lengthy stay on the disabled list.
The Pirates submitted a salary of $1.4 million, almost $1 million more than Ohlendorf's $439,000 salary in '10.
Before Ohlendorf, the previous time the Pirates went to an arbitration hearing was when Jack Wilson won his case and earned $1.85 million in '04.
The Pirates also submitted a $1.4 million salary in Wilson's case.
The exchange of numbers does not preclude further negotiations, and the team has had discussions with the players agents.
The arbitration process also will shed light on the payroll for the '12 season. Between the eight players under contract and the 10 players likely to earn around the league minimum of $480,000, the Pirates have around $27 million committed to their active roster.
Hanrahan, who saved 40 games in '11 while earning $1.4 million, will get the largest raise, potentially to around $4 million. Karstens made $1.1 million in '11, while the rest made less than $500,000. Karstens and Hanrahan agreed to terms before arbitration last season.
The Pirates opened last season with a $45 million payroll, which ranked 28th in the major leagues, and finished with a $51.8 million payroll, which ranked 27th. Huntington said the team has payroll flexibility, depending on the results of arbitration.
Teams will sometimes sign arbitration-eligible players Monday or Tuesday to avoid exchanging figures, but others commit to the hearing process if the sides can't agree on a contract.
"There are some clubs that file a number to go to arbitration, and if you file numbers ... then you're basically going to arbitration," Huntington said.
The Pirates began the offseason with 11 players eligible for arbitration. Before signing Resop, they released Ohlendorf and cut ties with Brandon Wood and Steve Pearce, who found homes in the Colorado Rockies and Minnesota Twins organization, respectively.
They traded one arbitration-eligible player for another when they sent Jose Veras to the Milwaukee Brewers for McGehee and agreed to a one-year, $1.1 million contract with Jason Grilli.
Bill Brink: firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @BrinkPG. First Published January 14, 2012 5:00 AM