LAS VEGAS -- Pirates general manager Neal Huntington confirmed that pitcher Jason Davis and catcher Raul Chavez have declined their outright assignments to Triple-A Indianapolis and opted to pursue free agency.
The Pirates recently removed Chavez and Davis, both of whom were arbitration-eligible, from the team's 40-man roster in order to make room for other acquisitions.
Both would have been in line for significant raises through arbitration, and the Pirates are still hopeful that they will be able to re-sign both for less.
Re-signing Chavez would give the Pirates more competition for the backup catcher's role. Davis would be given the opportunity to try and make the starting rotation, though it's more likely that he would be looked upon as a long-relief option out of the 'pen.
"We want to bring him back," Huntington said of Davis. "We think he has a great opportunity to come back and make our club. He absolutely has a great chance to make our club, and we hope he'll come back."
The Pirates have until Friday to determine which of their remaining eight arbitration-eligible players will receive a contract. Huntington said that there are still internal discussions about not tendering a contract to one, and maybe two, of those eight players.
The player believed to be on the bubble is reliever Denny Bautista, who has qualified for arbitration as a Super Two player. Bautista made $395,000 in 2008, which is just above the Major League minimum, but would be in line for a fairly significant raise if the Pirates do decide to tender him a contract and go on with negotiations.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.