The Mariners are pretty good at avoiding this arbitration drama.
They again swept the board in reaching agreements with their arbitration-eligible players, signing all five before Friday’s 10 a.m. deadline for both sides to exchange figures.
It started Thursday afternoon when reports surfaced that catcher Mike Zunino and the Mariners agreed to a $2.98 million deal. And the team announced Friday morning that left-hander James Paxton, right-hander Erasmo Ramirez and relievers David Phelps and Nick Vincent had come to terms.
The Mariners confirmed the signings, but not the terms of the contracts, per club policy. But ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick first reported Zunino’s deal.
Phelps agreed on a $5.5 million deal, according to Robert Murray of FanRagSports.com. And Paxton will earn $4.9 million this season, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
Salary numbers for Vincent and Ramirez had not yet been reported.
The Mariners agreed to deals with all eight of their arbitration-eligible players last year. The last Mariner to go to an arbitration hearing was Tom Wilhelmsen in 2014.
Paxton made $4.6 million last year when he went 12-5 with a 2.98 ERA in 24 starts, which included two trips to the disabled list with a left forearm strain and a strained left pectoral muscle. He dominated in July, going 6-0 with a 1.37 ERA with 46 strikeouts and six walks in six starts, becoming the first Mariners pitcher to win six games in a single month.
Paxton made $519,000 the year before that before becoming arbitration eligible.
Phelps, a right-handed reliever, came from the Marlins in a trade on July 20, finishing the season with 21 holds (tied for second-most among MLB relievers before first heading to the DL), a 3.40 ERA with 62 strikeouts and 26 walks in 54 combined appearances with the Mariners and Marlins. He also had two stops on the DL – with an impingement in his right elbow on Aug. 7 and a season-ending right elbow posterior impingement on Sept. 1. He had elbow surgery to remove a bone spur.
Vincent had the second-most holds (29) in Mariners history this past year, just behind Arthur Rhodes, who had 32 in 2001. He had a 3.20 ERA in 64 2/3 innings pitched with 50 strikeouts. The 31-year-old was the Mariners’ most reliable reliever, leading the team’s relievers in games and ERA and was second in innings. Only Twins reliever Taylor Rogers had more holds (30) than Vincent this past season.
Ramirez returned to the Mariners from the Rays in exchange for right-hander Steve Cishek on July 28. In 11 starts, he was 1-3 with a 3.92 ERA and is generally viewed to be slated in the bottom half of the Mariners starting rotation for the upcoming season.
Here’s how arbitration works:
Players with at least three but less than six years of major league service time are eligible, as well as the top 22 percent of players with at least two, but less than three, years of major league service time, provided the player had at least 86 days of service in the previous season.
Arbitration-eligible players can file for salary arbitration, which means the player and the organization each submit a salary figure and they continue to negotiate until the case goes before a three-person panel of professional arbitrators, who award the player a one-year, non-guaranteed contract at one salary or the other.
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677