Right-handed starter Erasmo Ramirez and relievers David Phelps and Nick Vincent also agreed to deals Friday that will keep them out of arbitration. Seattle has not had a case go to arbitration since 2014.
Paxton will get a hefty raise to $4.9 million after developing into the ace of Seattle's pitching staff. Paxton was 12-5 with a 2.98 ERA in 24 starts last season, striking out 156 in 136 innings. His health has been an issue, though. Paxton had two significant stints on the disabled list in 2017 with a forearm strain and a pectoral injury. His pectoral injury in August was a big blow to Seattle's slim playoff hopes. Paxton avoided arbitration a year ago by agreeing to a $2.35 million deal.
Zunino was arbitration eligible for the first time and agreed to a $2.975 million contract coming off his best offensive season. Zunino hit .251 with 25 home runs and 64 RBI. After a brief demotion to the minors in early May to address his hitting, Zunino batted .270 and hit all 25 of his homers over his final 100 games of the season.
Ramirez was acquired from Tampa Bay midway through last season for a second stint with Seattle and will make $4.2 million in 2018. Ramirez was just 1/3 in 11 starts with Seattle, but had a 3.92 ERA and pitched at least six innings in seven of those outings. Ramirez avoided arbitration with Tampa Bay before last season and agreed to a $3.215 million deal.
Phelps and Vincent are both key parts of Seattle's bullpen and each received mild raises. Phelps will earn $5.55 million and Vincent $2.75 million in the upcoming season. Phelps was acquired in a trade with Miami but is coming off surgery last September to remove a bone spur in his right elbow. Vincent led the team in appearances with 69 and had a 3.20 ERA, typically serving as the eighth-inning bridge last season.
Phelps made $4.6 million last year and Vincent earned $1.325 million.