Ross, Cantu high Marlins priorities

Expect changes on the Marlins roster in 2010. Also expect to have two prominent every day players back.

The Marlins are prepared to take on the contracts of Jorge Cantu and Cody Ross.

Since the end of this past season, Ross was projected to return. Nothing has changed in the Marlins thinking.

Ross comes off his most productive season, batting .270 with a career high for home runs (24) and RBIs (90).

The left-handed thrower and right-handed batter can play all three outfield spots. If Cameron Maybin isn’t ready to take over in center field, Ross is the likely choice there. If Maybin is healthy, Ross will slide over to right field.

Eligible for arbitration, Ross made $2.225 million in 2009. He is entering his second season of arbitration.

With the Winter Meetings set to begin on Monday in Indianapolis, there promise to be speculation involving a number of Florida players. Cantu likely will be one of them.

Don’t look for Cantu, however, to be on the move. The 27-year-old drove in 100 runs batting cleanup behind Hanley Ramirez. Cantu made $3.5 million in ’09, and he will be entering his final year of arbitration.

Cantu projects to start at either first base or third base, depending on whether Logan Morrison or Gaby Sanchez wins a starting job in Spring Training. Both prospects play first base.

The Marlins payroll projects to be under $40 million in 2010. A year ago, it was at $36 million. A round ballpark number would be $38 million when all is said and done.

In all, the Marlins have 11 players eligible for arbitration, including relievers Renyel Pinto, Matt Lindstrom and Leo Nunez. All three are in their first seasons of arbitration. Chances are two of the three will be traded.

— Joe Frisaro


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