Ross wins arbitration, will earn $4.45M
Outfielder said Marlins were 'professional' during hearing
MIAMI -- After enjoying his best Major League season, Cody Ross was in line for a hefty pay raise.
On Tuesday, the Marlins' outfielder found out exactly how much.
At an arbitration hearing in St. Petersburg, Fla., a panel ruled in favor of the 29-year-old outfielder. Their decision means Ross will earn $4.45 in 2010, which basically doubles his salary from a year ago.
In 2009, his base salary was $2.225 million. The Marlins presented a counter offer of $4.2 million.
Ross and the Marlins had their hearing on Monday morning, and it lasted about four hours. Later Monday, Ross returned to his home in Arizona. About 9:30 a.m. ET on Tuesday, Ross received word of the decision in a phone conversation from Bobby Bonilla, who works with the MLB Players Association.
Ross says there are no hard feelings with the Marlins, and he considers the organization family.
"I talked to so many people who went through the process before. They were telling me how awful it is, and how the team bashes you," Ross said. "They just try to make you sound like not a very good player. I was actually quite surprised. The Marlins, they were very professional. They didn't have a whole lot of bad things to say about me. They actually complimented me a lot during the case. It actually went a lot better than I thought it would."
"I feel like family to them. That's how I feel toward the whole front office. I love them. They're great people. They care about me. It's one of those things where neither side wanted [a hearing], it just so happened that we just ran out of time negotiating. Per their policy, we ended up having to go. I knew either way, win or lose, I knew it wasn't going to end badly. As soon as we walked out of the room, I shook all their hands, gave them a hug, and said, 'I'll see you all in a week.' It was probably as painless as I could have hoped."
Marlins pitchers and catchers begin workouts at Spring Training on Saturday at the Roger Dean Stadium complex in Jupiter, Fla. Full-squad drills get under way on Feb. 24. Ross said he will arrive in Florida on Monday, and be at the complex the following day.
Eligible for arbitration for the second time, the left-handed-throwing and right-handed-hitting outfielder comes off a career high for home runs and RBIs in a season.
|"I talked to so many people who went through the process before. They were telling me how awful it is, and how the team bashes you. They just try to make you sound like not a very good player. I was actually quite surprised. The Marlins, they were very professional. They didn't have a whole lot of bad things to say about me. They actually complimented me a lot during the case. It actually went a lot better than I thought it would."|
|-- Cody Ross|
In 2009, he belted 24 homers and drove in 90 runs to go along with a .270 batting average. Ross also posted career-best numbers in games (151), at-bats (559), hits (151), doubles (37) and runs scored (73).
Because the two sides were $250,000 apart at the Jan. 19 numbers exchange deadline, the case went to a hearing. Technically, negotiations could have continued up until the hearing was scheduled to start.
The Marlins, however, have a team policy to go to a hearing if a salary isn't worked out by the exchange deadline. A year ago, Dan Uggla won his hearing, and the two-time All-Star second baseman was awarded $5.3 million, instead of the $4.4 million Florida countered with.
In 2011, Ross will be third-year arbitration-eligible. If he is expected back with the Marlins next season, he said he hopes to start negotiations sooner.
"I'll take it a year at a time," Ross said. "Hopefully next year, the process will start up a little earlier. The conversations will start a little earlier. It wasn't the best negotiation. There was a lot of down time between talking. I'd like to get it going a little earlier next year. It kind of went down to the last minute. Neither side was talking, and we ended up in this situation. Nobody wants to go through it. Next year, hopefully, we'll just try to avoid it at all cost."
In all, on Florida's 40-man roster, nine players entered this offseason eligible for arbitration. Ross was the only one who wasn't able to reach agreement.
One of the most popular Marlins, Ross has become used to repeated chants of "Co-dy! Co-dy!" when he comes to the plate at Sun Life Stadium.
Even at a town hall-style meeting with fans at FanFest this past Saturday, Ross heard the familiar "Co-dy!" chant.
Marlins president David Samson joked that if the panel of arbitrators blurted out "Co-dy! Co-dy!" at the hearing, then the club's case would be in trouble.
Ross opened 2009 in right field, but he ended up playing a majority of the season in center field. He committed three errors all year.
Ross is the front-runner to be the starting right fielder on Opening Day, which is April 5 against the Mets at Citi Field. Cameron Maybin will enter Spring Training as the starting center fielder, and 2009 National League Rookie of the Year Chris Coghlan will play left field.
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.