Baseball’s Marlins agree to increase team payroll

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MIAMI (AP) — The perennially frugal Florida Marlins have reached an agreement with the players’ union to increase spending in the wake of complaints the team payroll has been so small as to violate baseball’s revenue sharing provisions.

The deal was announced Tuesday in a joint statement by the Marlins, the union and Major League Baseball. The parties did not comment beyond the statement, and it was unclear how much the Marlins’ payroll might increase.

The agreement runs through 2012, when the Marlins’ new ballpark is scheduled to open.

“In response to our concerns that revenue sharing proceeds have not been used as required, the Marlins have assured the union and the commissioner’s office that they plan to use such proceeds to increase player payroll annually as they move toward the opening of their new ballpark,” said Michael Weiner, executive director of the players’ association.

The agreement calls for arbitration if further disagreements arise, Weiner said.

Baseball’s basic agreement calls for each club to use its revenue sharing receipts in an effort to improve the team. In recent years, the union has complained the requirement was not met by some teams, including the Marlins.

Plagued by poor attendance in their current home, the Marlins have had the lowest payroll in the majors three of the past four seasons.

But the franchise has gotten considerable bang for its buck. Last year, for example, the Marlins finished six games out of first place in the NL East with a payroll of $37 million, while the division rival Mets finished 17 games behind Florida despite a payroll of $142 million.

“The Marlins have consistently made every effort to put the best product on the field, and our record supports the fact that we have been successful in that regard,” team president David Samson said. “Throughout the discussions, the Marlins maintained that there had been no violation of the basic agreement at any time.”

Citing confidentiality provisions, the joint statement said there would be no comment by any of the parties on further specifics of the agreement. As a result, it’s unclear what impact a spending increase will have on the Marlins’ 2010 season.

They might now be less inclined to trade second baseman Dan Uggla, who is eligible for arbitration and due a hefty raise. And increased spending improves the chance of an agreement with ace Josh Johnson on a multiyear contract.