Phelps wins arbitration case, will earn $4.6 million

Phelps wins arbitration case, will earn $4.6 million

MIAMI -- Marlins reliever David Phelps came out on the winning side of his first decision of 2017. On Thursday, an arbitration panel ruled in favor of the versatile right-hander, who is projected to pitch in the back end of the Marlins' bullpen.

Phelps' salary for the upcoming season will be $4.6 million instead of Miami's $4.35 million counter offer.

Phelps' arbitration hearing was on Wednesday, with the panel's decision coming out on Thursday. The ruling now means all six of the Marlins' arbitration-eligible players are locked into salaries for 2017.

The focus now turns to the start of Spring Training, which gets underway for the Marlins ‪on Tuesday at the ‪Roger Dean Stadium complex in Jupiter, Fla.

Pitchers and catchers workouts begin Tuesday, and full-squad workouts start next Friday.

Since being dealt to the Marlins from the Yankees in December 2014, Phelps has been no stranger to attending an arbitration hearing. It's his second time. Prior to the 2015 season, he lost his case and made $1.4 million, instead of $1.875 million. This January, the righty was unable to reach agreement by the salary exchange deadline, which led to the arbitration panel hearing.

Miami now has 18 players locked in at $102.7 million for 2017. Phelps was the Marlins' most versatile, and one of their most impressive pitchers in 2016. The 30-year-old right-hander was 7-6 with a 2.28 ERA and 114 strikeouts in 86 2/3 innings. He appeared in 64 games, five of them starts, and he finished with four saves.

Working out of the bullpen, he threw 62 1/3 innings, and his 11.84 strikeouts per nine innings were sixth best among all National League relievers. One reason for the spike in performance is reflected by an increase in velocity. His four-seam fastball average was 94.37 mph in '16, above the MLB average of 93.04 mph.

According to Statcast™, Phelps threw 579 four-seam fastballs in 2016, and opponents batted .165 off that pitch. In 2015, hitters batted .274 off Phelps' 544 four-seam fastballs.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for ‪ 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.