SEATTLE -- With the deadline for arbitration-eligible players to sign or exchange salary numbers with their clubs looming on Friday, Mariners catcher Mike Zunino has agreed to a $2.975 million deal for 2018, according to ESPN.com.The Mariners have not confirmed the deal.• Hot Stove TrackerZunino was one of five returning
SEATTLE -- With the deadline for arbitration-eligible players to sign or exchange salary numbers with their clubs looming on Friday, Mariners catcher Mike Zunino has agreed to a $2.975 million deal for 2018, according to ESPN.com.
The Mariners have not confirmed the deal.
• Hot Stove Tracker
Zunino was one of five returning Mariners still in the arbitration process. Starting pitchers James Paxton and Erasmo Ramirez and relievers David Phelps and Nick Vincent have not yet come to agreements heading into Friday's 10 a.m. PT deadline.
If any of the remaining players don't come to agreement prior to the deadline, both sides will exchange numbers of what they believe the player is worth. The two sides can continue negotiating, but if no agreement is reached prior to a February hearing date, then an independent arbitration panel will choose either the number submitted by the player or the team.
The Mariners have had just two cases go to an arbitration hearing since 2000. Reliever Tom Wilhelmsen lost his case in 2014, with the panel choosing the team's $1.4 million offer over his requested $2.2 million. Starting pitcher Freddy Garcia won his case in 2003 when he was awarded $6.875 million over the team's $5.9 million offer.
Phelps, acquired by Seattle from the Marlins last July, does have a history of taking his cases to arbitration, however. He asked the Marlins for $1.875 million, but he was awarded $1.4 million by an arbitration panel in 2015 in his first year as a Super Two qualifier. He avoided arbitration by agreeing to a $2.5 million deal in '16, then won an arbitration case with Miami last year, when he got $4.6 million instead of the team's offer of $4.325 million.
This will be Phelps' last year of arbitration before becoming a free agent. Ramirez and Vincent have one more year of arbitration before hitting free agency in 2020, while Paxton and Zunino have two more years of arbitration before becoming free agents in '21.
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.