Arbitrator favors Rays over Navarro

Arbitrator favors Rays over Navarro

ST. PETERSBURG -- An arbitrator ruled in favor of the Rays on Tuesday in their case with Dioner Navarro. The Tampa Bay catcher will play the 2009 season for the $2.1 million offered by the Rays rather than the $2.5 million he sought through arbitration.

"We're glad to have this behind us," said Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman. "Navvy was an important part of our success in 2008, and we look forward to him continuing to be an integral part of our nucleus going forward."

Navarro became arbitration-eligible for the first time in his career following the 2008 season, but he won't be eligible for free agency until after the '11 season.

"It's never ideal to go to a hearing," said Friedman. "But it is the process in place. Now we're all happy to shift our full attention to prepare for the season and winning games."

Navarro, 24, enjoyed a breakout season last year, hitting .295 with seven home runs and 54 RBIs. In addition, the catcher threw out 35.7 percent (25 of 70) of runners attempting to steal, ranking third in the Major Leagues. He made $412,500 in 2008, along with a $10,000 bonus for making the American League All-Star team.

Navarro's case was the third to advance to arbitration since Andrew Friedman's became Rays executive vice president of baseball operations. The club has won all three cases.

In the history of the franchise, Tampa Bay has not lost an arbitration case.

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