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Milledge, Diaz won’t be back

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A couple of weeks ago, the Jason Bay trade pretty much went belly-up when Andy LaRoche was cut loose. Of the four players the Pirates got in that swap, only Bryan Morris seems to have any chance at helping the club in the future.

Last night, the deals that sent Adam LaRoche to Boston and Nyjer Morgan to Washington also lost some of their luster. Argenis Diaz (who came from the BoSox) and Lastings Milledge (from the Nats) were non-tendered and became free agents. Neither made much impact in Pittsburgh and neither is likely to be re-signed by the Pirates.

Milledge, 25, began 2010 as the Opening Day starter in left field. He was shifted to right after Jose Tabata was called up, then was demoted to a platoon role due to his poor run production (34 RBI in 113 games) and defensive struggles.

Huntington is open to trying to re-sign Milledge, who made $452,000 this year. But attempts to work out a one-year deal before last night’s deadline yielded little progress.

“It was a tough negotiation,” GM Neal Huntington said. “As the negotiations went on, we began to explore alternatives. We want to continue to explore those alternatives.”

Diaz, 23, hit .242 in 22 games and did little to distinguish himself during his brief time in the majors. With a younger wave of infielders moving up in the Pirates’ farm system, Diaz is expendable and will not be re-signed.

»»» Left-handers Donnie Veal and Brian Burres also were non-tendered. Veal, a former Rule 5 pickup, is recovering from Tommy John surgery. Burres made 13 starts for the Pirates this past season.

Huntington is optimistic he can re-sign Veal and Burres, and already has made that known to both players’ camps.

»»» The non-tenders created four openings on the 40-man roster, which soon could be filled by free-agent signings.

»»» The Pirates signed shortstop Ronny Cedeno and pitcher Jeff Karstens to contracts to avoid salary arbitration.

Cedeno, who was in his final year of arbitration eligibility, got a one-year contact with a club option for 2012. Cedeno is guaranteed $2 million under the deal.

Karstens will make $1.1 million next year, nearly tripling his salary from this past season.

The Pirates had little choice but to keep Karstens as depth for the starting rotation after they traded Zach Duke and lost out in the bidding for free-agent Jorge de la Rosa. Karstens has pitched well as a starter, but there are concerns about his durability.

»»» The club also tendered offers to right-handers Ross Ohlendorf and Joel Hanrahan, who are both first-time eligible for arbitration.

If they do not sign contracts by Jan. 18, the pitchers and the team will exchange salary figures for arbitration. Arbitration hearings will be held Feb. 1-21.

Ohlendorf, 28, went 1-11 with a 4.07 ERA this year, when injuries limited him to 21 starts. He made $453,000.

Hanrahan, 29, is a candidate to become the full-time closer in 2011. This past season, he went 4-1 with a 3.62 ERA and six saves. The righty made $439,000.

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