A handful of days of big-league service is likely to be worth more than $2 million this winter for Mariners pitchers James Paxton and Taijuan Walker under the Super-2 provision for arbitration in baseball’s labor agreement.
The Mariners previously reported Paxton finished the season with 2 years, 151 days of service, and that Walker finished at 2-140. Catcher Jesus Sucre also qualified at 2-138 but appears in line for a more modest increase.
Paxton and Walker are each believed to have made about $530,000 in 2016, but both are in line for salaries of at least $2.7 million, according to an arbitration-prediction model used MLBTradeRumors.com.
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Sucre made $512,000 this season, but the Mariners are likely to allow him to become a free agent rather than submit to arbitration if no agreement is reached on a new contract prior to the Dec. 2 deadline.
The Mariners are expected to accept arbitration with Paxton and Walker if no agreement is reached prior to the deadline. Paxton, Walker and Sucre are the only Mariners affected by the Super-2 provision.
MLB’s labor contract grants arbitration eligibility to the top 22 percent of players with between two and three years of service under its "Super 2" provision, which affects Paxton, Walker and Sucre.
Players who fail to qualify for arbitration remain have no leverage in negotiations. As such, their salary rarely exceeds the major-league minimum by more than $50,000. The minimum was $507,500 in 2016.
The labor contract automatically awards arbitration eligibility to all players with at least three and less than six full seasons of big-league service. Players with more than six full years of service qualify for free agency.
The Mariners have six players eligible for free agency and eight players who qualify for arbitration by having at least three full years of service.
The pending free agents are catcher Chris Iannetta, first basemen Dae-Ho Lee and Adam Lind, outfielders Nori Aoki and Franklin Gutierrez, and pitcher Drew Storen. All six become free agents the day after the World Series concludes.
The other arbitration-eligible players are center fielder Leonys Martin, catcher Steve Clevenger, and pitchers Nick Vincent, Vidal Nuno, Evan Scribner, Tom Wilhelmsen, Charlie Furbush and Ryan Cook.
Scribner, Clevenger, Vincent and Nuno are first-time qualifiers.
All players not under contract for next season become free agents unless they receive an offer by Dec. 2. An offer to an arbitration-eligible player means the club is willing to submit to arbitration is no agreement is reached.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners