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Marlins avoid arbitration with Realmuto, 4 others

January 11, 2019

MIAMI -- The Marlins took care of some significant in-house business on Friday, locking up all five of their arbitration-eligible players, headlined by All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto, who will make $5.9 million in 2019.Along with Realmuto, Miami also came to terms on one-year deals with right-handers Dan Straily ($5 million)

MIAMI -- The Marlins took care of some significant in-house business on Friday, locking up all five of their arbitration-eligible players, headlined by All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto, who will make $5.9 million in 2019.
Along with Realmuto, Miami also came to terms on one-year deals with right-handers Dan Straily ($5 million) and Jose Urena ($3.2 million), left-hander Adam Conley ($1.125 million) and infielder Miguel Rojas ($3.155 million).
MLB.com confirmed all five salaries, which combine to add $18.38 million to Miami's overall payroll, expected to be about $100 million.
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All Major League teams faced a 1 p.m. ET salary exchange deadline on Friday to get their arbitration players under contract for the upcoming season.
By avoiding arbitration with their eligible players, the Marlins keep clear of the unpleasant practice of having player salaries settled by an arbitration panel prior to the start of Spring Training.
The Marlins traditionally have been a "file and trial" club, meaning if it didn't reach agreement with a player by the salary exchange deadline, it ceased negotiations and settled the salary discrepancy at an arbitration hearing.
Essentially, "file and trial" clubs treat the exchange date as a hard deadline. Technically, teams and players can still negotiate up until the arbitration hearing begins. But the Marlins typically don't do that.
The only exception to the Marlins' policy is if they discuss a multiyear contract with a player, not a one-year deal. Miami did just that with former left-handed reliever Mike Dunn, who avoided arbitration by signing a two-year, $5.8 million contract in 2015.
Last offseason, Realmuto's salary was settled at an arbitration hearing. Miami won the case, and the backstop made $2.9 million.

While the Marlins have treated the arbitration process as business as usual, they continue to explore trade possibilities for the 27-year-old Realmuto. Six clubs have been in substantive talks for him: the Dodgers, Braves, Astros, Rays, Reds and Padres.
On a team that finished 63-98, Realmuto emerged as a leader and the top player. He also established himself, at least statistically, as one of -- if not the best -- catcher in the Majors.
In 2018, Realmuto's slash line was .277/.340/.484 with career highs for home runs (21) and RBIs (74), plus 30 doubles. Realmuto started off last year on the disabled list due to a lower back contusion, and he appeared in 125 games. In 2017, Realmuto played in 141 games.
Straily was also in his second season of arbitration after making $3.375 million in 2018. The 30-year-old right-hander has been durable in recent years, but in 2018, he opened the season on the DL with a right forearm strain. In September, he was shut down due to a left oblique strain.

Straily went 5-6 with a 4.12 ERA in 23 starts spanning 122 1/3 innings in 2018 after logging 181 2/3 frames in his first season with the Marlins. In '16, Straily pitched in a career-high 191 1/3 innings for the Reds.
Urena, who has emerged as the ace of the staff, was in arbitration for the first time, as was Conley, who transitioned to a relief role after breaking in as a starter.

Urena finished 9-12 with a 3.98 ERA in 31 starts over 174 innings. The 27-year-old right-hander has been a workhorse for the club, compiling 169 2/3 innings in 2017.
Conley appeared in 52 games, threw 50 2/3 innings and struck out 50 batters as the primary left-hander in the bullpen. The 28-year-old southpaw added three saves, and he is expected to get some chances to close, based on matchups.

Rojas enjoyed his most productive big league season in 2018, establishing career highs for games (153), at-bats (488), home runs (11) and RBIs (53). One of the most versatile players on the team, the 29-year-old projects to split time again at shortstop with JT Riddle.
Rojas, who was in his second year of arbitration after making $1.18 million a year ago, is an option to play third base and second; he has also been a defensive replacement at first base.

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