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2 of Miami's offseason adds face arbitration

@JoeFrisaro
January 9, 2020

MIAMI -- Acquiring Jonathan Villar and Jesús Aguilar in early December accounted for two of the Marlins' most significant offseason moves. The next step for the organization is getting them both signed for the 2020 season. That process has been ongoing, and deals are expected to be finalized for both

MIAMI -- Acquiring Jonathan Villar and Jesús Aguilar in early December accounted for two of the Marlins' most significant offseason moves. The next step for the organization is getting them both signed for the 2020 season.

That process has been ongoing, and deals are expected to be finalized for both by Friday’s 1 p.m. ET arbitration salary exchange deadline.

Salary arbitration, explained

Villar and Aguilar are two of four Marlins who are eligible for arbitration. They are joined by right-hander José Ureña and lefty Adam Conley.

But who, exactly, is up for arbitration?

The Marlins obtained Villar from the Orioles on Dec. 2 for lefty pitching prospect Easton Lucas. On the same day, Miami claimed Aguilar off waivers from the Rays.

Villar, primarily a middle infielder throughout his big league career, is expected to move around to various positions with the Marlins. A switch-hitter and projected leadoff batter, Villar will most likely play third base, second and some outfield. He can play all three outfield spots.

Aguilar, an All-Star with the Brewers in 2018, is expected to be Miami’s regular first baseman.

Ureña, the Marlins’ Opening Day starter the past two seasons who dealt with injuries in 2019, is being shifted to the bullpen, and Conley, a starter earlier in his career, is now a lefty reliever.

What is arbitration?

Basically, players who have between three and six years of Major League service time are eligible to have their salary determined through an arbitration process. There are exceptions for some players with less than three but more than two years of big league time, but no Marlins fall into that category.

Players with six or more years of MLB service time qualify for free agency.

If any of Miami's four eligible players are not signed by noon ET Friday, the next step for both sides is to exchange salary figures. From there, an arbitration hearing date will be scheduled, and an arbitration panel will listen to both sides and decide on either the player's or team's figure.

Technically, the sides can continue negotiation up until the hearing starts. But the Marlins have traditionally been a “file and trial” team, meaning they will not negotiate after the exchange deadline.

What are Miami's arbitration-eligible players expected to make?

Villar is on pace to be a free agent in 2021. According to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, the veteran has 5.113 years of MLB service time, while Ureña has 4.040, Conley 3.147 and Aguilar 3.082.

Ureña’s situation may be a little more complicated because his salaries the previous two years were based on him being part of the rotation, not in the bullpen.

Cot’s Baseball Contracts projects the 2020 salaries of the four players to amount to $18.6 million -- $9.75 million for Villar, $4.75 million for Ureña, $2.75 million for Aguilar and $1.35 million for Conley.

The Marlins are projected to have an Opening Day payroll of $68.075 million. That includes the $22 million owed to Wei-Yin Chen, who was released in December, and the $1 million buyout on Starlin Castro’s contract.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.