Marlins avoid arbitration with Ramos, 4 others

Marlins avoid arbitration with Ramos, 4 others

MIAMI -- The Marlins avoided arbitration with five of their six eligible players on Friday, including All-Stars A.J. Ramos and Marcell Ozuna. But the club was unable to reach agreement with right-hander David Phelps prior to the 1 p.m. ET salary exchange deadline.

Because of their "file and trial" policy, the Marlins will resolve Phelps' salary for 2017 at a hearing prior to the start of Spring Training. Miami also avoided arbitration with right-hander Tom Koehler, shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria and infielder Derek Dietrich.

Per team policy, the club doesn't disclose financial terms. MLB.com has confirmed the salaries of Ramos ($6.55 million), Koehler ($5.75 million), Hechavarria $4.35 million), Ozuna ($3.5 million) and Dietrich ($1.7 million).

The Marlins now have 17 players signed for $98.1 million.

Ramos, who made $3.4 million in 2016, is in his second season of arbitration eligibility. The right-hander's salary rose to $6.55 million after becoming an All-Star for the first time. In his second year closing, Ramos saved 40 games in 43 chances, and posted a 2.81 ERA. In 64 innings, he struck out 73. He averaged 10.3 strikeouts per nine innings. Miami's 21st-round pick in the 2009 Draft, Ramos has been a steady presence in the bullpen since 2013. He has 72 career saves and an ERA of 2.66. The right-hander has appeared in at least 67 games in each of the past four seasons.

Phelps filed at $4.6 million and the Marlins countered at $4.325 million. At the hearing, the arbitration panel will pick one of the two figures.

For Phelps, it's the second time he is headed to a hearing since he was acquired from the Yankees in December 2014. Prior to the '15 season, he also went to hearing and filed at $1.875 million. The Marlins countered at $1.4 million, and that was the figure awarded by the arbitration panel.

Technically, the Marlins could continue talks with Phelps up until the hearing begins, but they have a longstanding policy to go to trial after the salary exchange deadline.

The organization made an exception in 2015 with reliever Mike Dunn, but in that case, the two sides agreed to a multiyear contract.

Phelps made $2.5 million in 2016, and the 30-year-old showed his versatility by appearing in 64 games, with five starts. The right-hander has been used in a variety of roles. He started last year off in a long-relief capacity before becoming a late-inning setup presence. He even saved four games and was used in the rotation late in the year.

Ozuna, an All-Star for the first time in 2016, is going through arbitration for the first time. The 26-year-old outfielder had a slash line of .266/.321/.452 with 23 home runs and 76 RBIs in 148 games.

Ozuna opened the season in center field, but he switched to a corner spot when Christian Yelich took over in center. The Marlins are considering moving Ozuna to right field and going with Giancarlo Stanton in left field. That is a scenario that is expected to play itself out in Spring Training.

As productive as Ozuna was in 2016, he was much better in the first half, belting 17 home runs while driving in 47. His batting average was .307 in the first half, but it was .209 after the All-Star Game. Still, Ozuna's overall production was solid when you also consider he made $570,000.

Koehler, 30, collected $3.5 million in 2016, his first year eligible for arbitration. The New York native has been a mainstay in the rotation since 2014, and he has topped 30 starts in each of his past three seasons. Koehler was 9-13 with a 4.33 ERA in 33 starts and 176 2/3 innings last year. Like Ramos, Koehler is in his second year of arbitration. Both pitchers are eligible for free agency in 2019.

Hechavarria, 27, has been Miami's regular shortstop since 2013. He made $2.625 million in 2016 and would qualify for free agency in 2019. A Gold Glove finalist in the past, Hechavarria struggled at the plate in 2016, batting .236/.283/.311 with three home runs and 38 RBIs. In '15, he hit .281/.315/.374 with five home runs and 48 RBIs, but he appeared in 130 games, compared to 155 in '16.

Defensively, Hechavarria had a Ultimate Zone Rating of 8.3 and nine Defensive Runs Saved. His UZR was down from the 15.8 in 2015, when he Gold Glove finalist. But his nine DRS were the same as '16.

Dietrich, 27, also is eligible for arbitration for the first time. The left-handed-hitting infielder made $522,500 in 2016, a season in which he belted seven home runs and drove in 42 in 128 games. Dietrich received substantial playing time, filling in mostly at second base after Dee Gordon's 80-game suspension. For the season, Dietrich had a slash line of .279/.374/.425 and an OPS of .798. He also shattered a franchise record by getting hit by a pitch 24 times. The previous high was 17 by Carlos Delgado in 2005.

The Marlins plan to use Dietrich in a variety of roles. Along with playing second base, he projects to see time at third base, first base and left field.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.