Business settled, Phelps, Marlins share goal

Business settled, Phelps, Marlins share goal

JUPITER, Fla. -- During the arbitration process, David Phelps and the Marlins agreed to disagree. They were unable to reach a salary figure in mid-January, so an arbitration panel decided last Thursday.

The ruling went in favor of Phelps, who is now signed for $4.6 million, instead of the $4.325 million the club countered with. Now that the business side is settled, the 30-year-old is ready to get down to business.

"Just to have it done with [is a relief]," Phelps said. "You walk into the room, you shake hands. You walk out of the room, you shake hands and hug. We're still family. It's a process. It's part of the business. Unfortunately, there are times that come where you have to go through it. All we're really focused on now is winning baseball games."

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The Marlins opened Spring Training on Tuesday, and one of their most effective pitchers is Phelps. He certainly is the franchise's most versatile pitcher, because he does everything. Phelps has been a starter, a long reliever, a setup man and even a closer.

At a time the industry is figuring out how to best maximize relievers, Phelps is one of Miami's most valued players. He's basically a super-utility pitcher.

"A guy like David Phelps, in our minds, is kind of our Andrew Miller," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said, drawing a comparison to the Indians reliever. "He can pitch the ninth. He can pitch the eighth. He can pitch two innings. He's started. We don't really want to do that, but he is that guy. We want to have a couple of guys we feel can do that, who can go multiple [innings]."

Phelps comes off a sterling 2016. He was 7-6 with a 2.28 ERA and 114 strikeouts in 86 2/3 innings. Phelps appeared in 64 games, five of them starts, and he finished with four saves.

Working out of the bullpen, Phelps 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 2016, 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 '15, hitters batted .274 off Phelps' 544 four-seam fastballs.

Phelps is ready to contribute wherever Miami sees fit.

"I'm not really worried about it," Phelps said. "In all honesty, like last spring, I'm going to come in and do my job, day in and day out, and I'll be the best version of myself that I can be. I'll let the rest take care of itself."

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.