The Marlins sign some arbitration guys

The news from yesterday has the Marlins signing off on a few arbitration-eligible players to new contract for the 2010 season. Seven Marlins filed for arbitration: Dan Uggla, Cody Ross, Jorge Cantu, Anibal Sanchez, Renyel Pinto, Leo Nunez, and Josh Johnson. JJ’s filing was just a precautionary measure in case the multi-year deal he already received falls apart due to some unforeseen problem; the deal has been announced and is just awaiting its official-ness. Most of the remaining players looked to have roles on the team for 2010. Five of them signed, with only one left to go.

Dan Uggla, $7.8M

The most important signing of the day was clearly Dan Uggla. Uggla figured to make plenty in arbitration, but somehow the Marlins escaped with giving him just $7.8M to stay a Marlin. This is below the expected $8-9M that we could have seen in an arbitration award. For the Marlins, this has to be considered a slight coup. Last season, the team went to arbitration and lost, awarding $5.35M to Uggla. In his second season of arbitration, Uggla only received a $2.45M raise from his previous award, a little more than half of the previous award.

Some people have made an issue out of the supposed problem of Uggla being the highest-paid Marlin on the 2010 roster. Uggla will once again be making more than Hanley Ramirez, who is slated to earn $7M this season. The difference is certainly significant, though it’s less than $1M. Furthermore, Hanley is still earning on a similar scale to Uggla’s arbitration awards, so it’s something of a weak point anyway. This “issue” is of no importance.

How does this help Uggla’s future trade value? Well, I was expecting the team to pay something like $8.5M. At $7.8M, the team could be adding the value of maybe 0.3 WAR, not entirely significant. What the Marlins can eke out of this deal is a little bit more leverage for next season’s salary. Maybe the slight deviation from expected salary this season pushes Uggla’s 2011 salary down to an expected $11M rather than $12-13M. That improvement may just leave enough surplus value to net something decent in a trade, especially if the Marlins are (gasp) willing to eat some of Uggla’s 2010 salary in a deadline deal. Trust me folks, this is a positive.

Jorge Cantu, $6M

This was a surprisingly high figure. I was expecting Cantu to end up at $5M, but he actually got a little more. I hope the Marlins enjoy paying for Cantu’s RBIs. Currently, I would suspect that Cantu is being paid closest to his free agent market value by the Marlins. Also, consider that there is very little in the way of upside in Cantu’s play. This is not a good move.

Anibal Sanchez, $1.25M

This is Sanchez’ first go-around in arbitration, and given his injury history, the figure is not surprising. Hopefully he can get enough starts this year to be worth the money.

Leo Nunez, $2M

Here is your classic example of an overrated reliever. Nunez was not even that good last year. This is his first season of arbitration. How is he earning $2M, the same that Ross earned last year coming off a season as a starting center fielder? It’s simple: he’s a Closer, capital C and all. No major league team would consider paying Nunez $2M coming off his performances the last three seasons. This is a waste of money for the Marlins.

Renyel Pinto, $1.025M

Pinto is the least likely to be a Marlin heading into 2010. The Fish are looking to deal him. Still, at this point the Marlins could do worse than holding onto him, even though it will mean another season of headaches for fans everywhere as he enters yet another high leverage situation.

The only player remaining that has not signed is Ross, and it seems as if the team will be heading to arbitration with him. My expectation is that he’ll receive a salary in the $4 – 4.5M range, which would be well worth it to the Marlins. Ross still holds plenty of valuable as a slightly below average glove and slightly above average bat. With prospects like Mike Stanton and Scott Cousins not ready to take on significant time, Ross will likely remain a decent investment heading into 2011. I think the upper limit would be $5M, which would still be worth it but would not be a Marlins bargain.

Tags: Dan Uggla Jorge Cantu Leo Nunez Miami Marlins

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