Marlins offer contracts to all 36 players

Marlins offer contracts to all 36 players

MIAMI -- Rather than go out and spend freely on high-priced free agents, the Marlins have committed themselves to retaining their own.

As expected on Tuesday, the Marlins tendered formal contract numbers to all 36 players on their 40-man roster.

Topping the list are their four prime arbitration-eligible players: Dontrelle Willis, Miguel Cabrera, Miguel Olivo and Kevin Gregg.

Willis, who got married this past weekend, is in his second year going through arbitration. The D-Train earned $4.35 million a year ago and projects to make about $6.5 million in 2007.

A two-time All-Star, Willis is coming off a 12-12 season with a 3.87 ERA. Since being called up from Double-A in 2003, the left-hander has a 58-39 career record and a 3.44 ERA. His 58 wins are a team record.

Cabrera, the 23-year-old sensation, enters arbitration for the first time. A three-time All-Star, and one of the elite hitters in the game, Cabrera promises to receive a substantial raise from the $472,000 he collected in 2006.

Cabrera is in line to make about $5.5 million in 2007. The Venezuelan-born third baseman set a Marlins single-season record with his .339 batting average, which was second to Pittsburgh's Freddy Sanchez in the National League batting race.

The young slugger has a career batting average of .311, with 104 home runs and 404 RBIs. He's also won two straight Silver Slugger Awards.

While Cabrera is up for arbitration for the first time, and Willis is in his second year, both are in the same time frame when it comes to becoming free agents. Both will have more than six years of MLB service time to become free agents after the 2009 season.

As of now, the Marlins are considering going year-to-year with both of their young superstars. The organization's thinking may change if it secures funding for a new stadium in the next year or two.

The Marlins have been searching for years for a baseball-only ballpark. Progress is being made, and negotiations are continuing in three potential locations: Miami, Hialeah and Pompano.

Once the club has the stability of a new stadium in place, it will be on better financial footing to offer multiyear contracts.

Olivo, 28, emerged as the Marlins' No. 1 catcher in 2006, and he batted a respectable .263 with 16 home runs and 58 RBIs in 127 games. After sharing action early in the season with Matt Treanor, Olivo assumed a heavier workload in the second half.

Olivo made $700,000 in 2006 and will probably more than double his salary this offseason. Defensively, the strong-armed Olivo threw out 38.5 percent of the runners who attempted to steal against him. Only St. Louis' Yadier Molina's 43.9 percentage was higher in the National League.

Gregg joins the Marlins after being obtained from the Angels for reliever Chris Resop. The 28-year-old right-hander appeared in 32 games and threw 78 1/3 innings for Los Angeles last season. He is in the mix as a long reliever and spot starter.

Going primarily with youth in 2006, the Marlins used 22 rookies before the September callup period.

A number of those first-year players turned into excellent bargains, including Rookie of the Year Hanley Ramirez and All-Star second baseman Dan Uggla.

Players like Ramirez, Uggla, Mike Jacobs, Josh Willingham and Josh Johnson all made $327,000, as did the rest of the rookies who were with the club the entire season.

As part of the new collective bargaining agreement, the minimum for those players now is $380,000.

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.