Rays sign Pete Fairbanks to extension

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

Fairbanks, a client of Republik Sports, would be guaranteed $12 million over the next three seasons (including a $1 million buyout on the 2026 option). Fairbanks will receive $3.666 million per year between 2023 and 2025, while the option comes with a base value of $7 million. The deal also contains various incentives and escalators that could reach $24.6 million over four seasons.

Fairbanks and the Rays have yet to set a salary for the upcoming season as it dropped a figure of $1.9 million when it first entered the arbitration process, while the team hit back at $1.5 million. Fairbanks would have been in line for another pair of raises in 2024 and 2025, but those salaries are now locked in. In exchange for a guarantee that could err upwards of what he could have earned year-over-year, Fairbanks will give the Rays control of his first free agent campaign — his season at age 32.

Fairbanks, 29, acquired from Rangers in a straight trade for infielder/outfielder Nick Solak in 2019, has emerged as one of the Rays’ top late-inning options. Tampa Bay doesn’t typically field a set closer, but Fairbanks is among the favorites to lead the club in stoppages in the coming season. Over the past three years, he has thrown a 2.70 ERA with a 33.8 percent strikeout rate and 9.7 percent walk rate in 93 1/3 innings.

However, injuries prevented Fairbanks from working a full innings slate in a 162-game season. In 2021, he landed on the injured list twice due to shoulder problems – first a strained rotator cuff, then inflammation – missing around a month each time. He missed more than three months of the 2022 season due to a strain.

While there are some sustainability issues, Fairbanks’ 2022 campaign, in particular, illustrates the potentially dominant arm the Rays are locking onto this deal. Fairbanks averaged 99.2 mph on his heater while throwing at a 1.13 ERA with a comedic strikeout rate of 43.7%, a brilliant walk rate of 3.4% and a run rate of ground ball well above the 53.3% average. He also had a 17% swing-strike rate that ranked 16th out of 546 pitchers who pitched at least 20 innings in 2022. Fairbanks hasn’t allowed a run in its final 22 innings of the season.

It’s the second multi-year extension this week for the Rays, who traded officiating numbers with seven players two weeks ago on trade day. left-handed Jeffrey Springs agreed to a four-year, $31 million deal that bought two officiating seasons and two free agent years earlier in the week. The Rays, like many other clubs, have taken a case-and-trial approach to arbitration in recent years – effectively halting year-long deal talks once the numbers are exchanged. These clubs will generally remain open to working out multi-year arrangements if the player is willing, and if not, an arbitration hearing is the typical outcome.

The Rays still have five other players with unresolved cases. Infielder Yandy Diaz (asked for $6.3 million to the Rays’ $5.5 million), first baseman/outfielder Harold Ramirez ($2.2 million vs. $1.9 million), left-handed Colin Pocket ($1.3 million vs. $1.175 million), right Ryan Thompson ($1.2 million vs. $1 million) and right jason adam ($1.775 million vs. $1.55 million) all swapped numbers with the team on Jan. 13 after they were unable to agree on a one-year salary.

With the recent flurry of extensions over the past year and more — Wander Franco, Tyler Glasnow, Manuel Margot and Springs have also agreed to multi-year contracts — and the Rays signing Zach Eflin to a three-year deal, Tampa Bay is in the rare position of already having some decent money on the books two years later. The Rays already have $65.666 million guaranteed to seven players for the 2024 campaign, and that’s before factoring in what’s currently slated to be 13 players eligible for arbitration, the league’s minimum players to complete the group and, of course, any future additions via commerce. or free agency over the next 12 months or so.

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

ESPN’s Jeff Passan was the first to report that the Rays and Fairbanks agreed to a three-year, $12 million guarantee with a fourth-year club option. Joel Sherman of the New York Post declared the base value and the repurchase of the option. Mark Topkins of Tampa Bay Weather indicated the maximum contract value and the precise distribution of salaries.

Image courtesy of USA Today Sports.

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