In a pronouncement that comes as no surprise, general manager Neal Huntington said that the Pirates intend to decline club options for Ryan Doumit and Chris Snyder after the conclusion of the World Series. The catchers are two of four Pirates who hold club options for the 2012 season.
Any player who doesn't have an option exercised will become a free agent.
"I hate closing doors," Huntington said, "but I think it's realistic to assume that neither option is realistically in play at this point in time."
Snyder's club option, which was negotiated when he was with Arizona, would pay him $6.75 million in 2012. Doumit's option would trigger a $7.25 million salary next season and $8.25 million in 2013. Generally speaking, neither cost is exorbitant. They become a little more so, though, when you consider that both players are 30 years old and have been plagued by injuries throughout their careers.
Each catcher has a buyout attached to his club option. Snyder's is worth $750,000; Doumit's is $500,000.
Clubs have until three days after the conclusion of the World Series -- which could end as early as Monday or as late as next Thursday -- to make decisions about club options. The Pirates are not expected to make their decision official until near the end of that window.
Though the options may be a moot point, the Pirates have not definitively ruled out having Doumit or Snyder return under some sort of reworked contract.
"We have some level of interest, in a vacuum, of keeping both players," Huntington said, hinting that there would be no scenario in which both return.
"The impact Snyder has had on our staff since he got here is measurable," Huntington said. "That's an important element for us to keep in mind. His impact is measured much more than just in batting average and home runs that he hit. If he gets healthy and is able to come back, those benefits are still tangible."
As for Doumit?
"In Ryan's case, he's obviously swung the bat as well as he has since 2008. He has still worked hard defensively."
Snyder missed almost four months after undergoing season-ending back surgery, though his prognosis is positive heading into the offseason. He is rehabbing in Arizona, where he has been working out at Athletes Performance Institute since September.
Snyder, who batted .271 in 34 games this season, anticipates resuming throwing around Thanksgiving. That falls in line with his normal offseason routine.
"I'm going to have a solid seven months of working out until Spring Training hits," Snyder said during the last week of the season. "I'll be well rested. My body has been responding well. Everything has been going good."
On the final day of the season, Doumit characterized his chances of returning to Pittsburgh as "slim," though he added that management has not necessarily given that strong of an indication. Doumit missed more than two months this year after sustaining a left ankle injury. It was just the latest in a line of injuries for Doumit, who has been on the disabled list at least once each year since 2006.
When he was healthy this season, Doumit was one of the Pirates' better hitters, batting .303 with 30 RBIs and a .353 on-base percentage in 77 games.
The Pirates have already been discussing contingency plans should they decide to move past Doumit and Snyder altogether. The challenge is that the free-agent market for catchers is not deep, meaning that the Pirates are going to have limited options and greater competition.
Internally, the club is set to bring back Michael McKenry, Jason Jaramillo, Matt Pagnozzi and Eric Fryer -- all of whom spent time on the big league club this year. None of the four, however, has had sustained offensive success at the Major League level.
"We'll just have to wait and see," Huntington said. "We know we need to put a good catching product behind the plate. We like some of our young guys and what they can do. We are trying to leave as many doors open as can -- free agency, trade, retaining our own.
"For every 10-year-old out there, learn how to catch. There is always a shortage."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.