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Cantu, Nunez Agree; Cody Ross and Marlins Headed to Salary Showdown

  While the Marlins worked out contract agreements on Tuesday with two more arbitration-eligible players --  third baseman Jorge Cantu ($6 million) and reliever Leo Nunez ($2 million) -- they failed to come to terms with Cody Ross. As a result, the two sides will argue in front of independent arbitrators in February to determine the outfielder's 2010 salary.

    The arbitrator will choose between the figure submitted by Ross ($4,450,000) and the one submitted by the Marlins ($4,200,000).

   The Marlins have come out losers in two of their past three hearings, winning against Kevin Gregg in 2007 while losing to Miguel Cabrera in '07 and Dan Uggla last year. Overall, clubs hold a 280-207 edge over players in salary cases decided by arbitrators.

   This much is almost certain: the Marlins' Opening Day payroll, assuming they don't trade Uggla, will be much higher than it was last year. Based on existing and projected agreements, total payroll for the 25-man roster could approach, if not exceed, $45 million --- the highest since the $60 million paid to the 2005 club. Last year's figure was $36.8 million.

    That should satisfy the demands of the union and league, which forced the Marlins to agree to a payroll increase.