Rays draw Pete Fairbanks to expansion

The Rays announced on Friday afternoon that they have signed a successor Pete Fairbanks to a three-year extension with a club option for 2026. The deal buys out his three remaining seasons of arbitration, while the club option covers what would have been his first free season.

Republik Sports customer Fairbanks is reportedly getting a $12 million guarantee for the next three seasons (including a $1 million buyout for the 2026 option). Fairbanks will receive $3.666 million annually between 2023-2025, while the option comes with a base value of $7 million. The deal also includes several incentives and escalators that could net it a maximum of $24.6 million over four seasons.

Fairbanks and the Rays had yet to settle a salary for the upcoming season, as he had requested $1.9 million through the arbitration process on his first run, while the team had responded against $1.5 million. Fairbanks would have lined up for a few more raises in 2024 and 2025, but those salaries are now on hold. In exchange for a guarantee that could fail toward the highest level of what he could have earned from year to year, Fairbanks will give the Rays control of his first free-agent campaign – his season at 32 years old. age.

Acquired from the Rangers in 2019 in an outright trade for infielder/outfielder Nick Solak, the 29-year-old Fairbanks has become one of the Rays’ top late-inning options. Tampa Bay doesn’t normally move one set closer, but Fairbanks is one of the favorites to lead the club in saves next season. Over the past three years, he pitched for a 2.70 ERA with a strikeout rate of 33.8% and a walk rate of 9.7% in 93 1/3 innings.

Injuries, however, have kept Fairbanks from working an entire series of innings over a 162-game season. In 2021, he landed on the injured list twice due to shoulder issues – first a rotator cuff strain, then an inflammatory attack – missing about a month each time. He missed more than three months of the 2022 season due to a crossbar strain.

While there are some sustainability concerns, the Fairbanks 2022 campaign in particular illustrates the potentially dominant arm the Rays lock into this deal. Fairbanks averaged a blistering 99.2 mph on his heater while throwing to a 1.13 ERA with a comical 43.7% strikeout rate, a brilliant 3.4% walk rate and a far above average 53.3% ground-ball rate. He also recorded a 17% batting percentage that ranked 16th out of 546 pitchers to throw at least 20 innings in 2022. Fairbanks allowed no run in his final 22 innings of the season.

It’s the second multi-year extension this week for the Rays, who traded arbitration numbers with as many as seven players on trade-off day two weeks ago. Southpaw Jeffrey Springs agreed to a four-year, $31 million contract that bought out two arbitration seasons and two free agent years earlier in the week. The Rays, like many other clubs, have taken a file-and-trial approach to arbitration in recent years – effectively breaking down talks on one-year deals once the numbers are exchanged. Those clubs are typically open to working out multi-year agreements if the player is admissible, otherwise an arbitration hearing is the usual outcome.

The Rays have five players left with unsolved cases. Infielder Yandy Diaz (asked $6.3 million on the Rays’ $5.5 million), first baseman/outfielder Harold Ramirez ($2.2mm vs $1.9mm), left-handed Colin bag ($1.3MM vs $1,175MM), that’s right Ryan Thompson ($1.2MM vs $1MM) and rightfully so Jason Adam ($1.775 million vs. $1.55 million) all traded numbers with the team on Jan. 13 after they couldn’t agree on an annual salary.

With the recent wave of renewals over the past year plus – Wander Franco, Tyler Glasnow, Manuel Margot and Springs also agreed to multi-year deals – and the Rays signing Zach Eflin to a three-year contract, Tampa Bay is in the rare position to have a decent amount of cash on the books two years later. The Rays have already guaranteed $65.666 million for seven players for the 2024 campaign, and that’s before factoring in what is currently slated as 13 players eligible for arbitration, players with minimal competition to finish the group. rounds and, of course, any future additions via trade or free agency in the next 12 months or so.

The Rays have never started a season with a payroll that exceeded last year’s $83.8 million total. That won’t change in 2023 barring an unexpected late addition to the roster, but barring a major trade or trades, it looks like locks to set a new franchise record on the player roster in 2024. And with each of Diaz, Ramirez, Poche, Thompson and Adam all still unsettled, it’s possible that Tampa Bay could add a few more guaranteed salaries to that ledger by making additional multi-year pacts with the currently outstanding members of their arbitration class.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan was the first to report that the Rays and Fairbanks had agreed to a three-year, $12 million guarantee with a fourth-year club option. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported the base value and buyout of the option. Mark Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported the maximum value of the contract and the specific salary breakdown.

Image courtesy of USA Today Sports.

Leave a Comment