The Rays announced the signing of the reliever on Friday afternoon Pete Fairbanks Three-year extension with 2026 club option. The deal buys out the remaining three seasons of arbitration eligibility, while the club’s option covers the first free agent season.

Fairbanks, a Republic Sports client, is reportedly guaranteed 12mm over the next three seasons (including a 1mm buyout in the 2026 election). Fairbanks will be paid $3.666 million annually between 2023-25, while the option comes with a $7 million value. The deal contains a number of incentives and escalations that could rise to $24.6 million over four seasons.

While Fairbanks and Rays first entered the arbitration process for $1.9 million, they had to settle on salaries for the upcoming season. Fairbanks was in line for another pair of raises in 2024 and 2025, but those salaries are now locked in place. Fairbanks will give the 32-year-old control in his first free-agent campaign to ensure he can make mistakes in the high end he can get year after year.

Fairbanks, 29, acquired from the Rangers in 2019 for infielder/outfielder Nick Solak, has become one of the Rays’ top options in 2019. Tampa Bay doesn’t typically deploy a set of closers, but Fairbanks is among the favorites to lead the club in scoring this coming season. Over the past three years, he pitched to a 2.70 ERA with a 33.8% strikeout rate and a 9.7% walk rate in 93 1/3 innings.

Injuries kept Fairbanks from working a full innings during a 162-game season. In the year In 2021, he landed on the injured list twice because of shoulder problems — first a strained rotator cuff, then inflammation — missing about a month each time. He missed more than three months of the 2022 season with a lat strain.

Despite some lingering concerns, Fairbanks’ 2022 campaign, in particular, shows the Rays could be the dominant arm in this deal. Fairbanks averaged 99.2 miles in the warm-up, posting a 1.13 ERA with a ridiculous 43.7% strikeout rate, an impressive 3.4% walk rate and an above-average 53.3% ground-ball rate. He recorded a 17% swinging strikeout rate, which ranked 16th among 546 pitchers who pitched at least 20 innings in 2022. Fairbanks did not allow a run over his final 22 innings of the season.

It’s the second multi-year extension this week for the Rays, who traded seven players on trade day two weeks ago. Southpaw Jeffrey Springs Earlier in the week, he agreed to a four-year, $31MM contract that bought out two arbitration seasons and two free agent years. The Rays, like other clubs, have resorted to arbitration through the file-and-try process in recent years — successfully ending talks on one-year deals after figures were exchanged. Those clubs remain open to working out multi-year deals if the player is comfortable, and if not, arbitration is the usual outcome.

The Rays still have five other players with unresolved issues. Infield Yandy Diaz (asked $5.5m $6.3m for Rays), first baseman/outfielder Harold Ramirez ($2.2MM vs. $1.9MM), Gr Colin Kiss ($1.3mm from $1.175mm), right Ryan Thompson ($1.2mm from $1mm) and right Jason Adam ($1.775MM vs. $1.55MM) All exchanged figures on Jan. 13 after the team could not come to an agreement on a one-year salary figure.

A rash of recent extensions over the past year — Vander Franco, Tyler Glasnow, Manuel Margot and Springsteen have also agreed to multiyear deals — and the Rays’ signing of Zach Eflin to a three-year contract has included Tampa Bay. A rare place to make a good bit of money on the books for a couple of years down the road. The Rays are guaranteed $65.666 million for seven players through the 2024 campaign, and that’s before 13 arbitration-eligible players, league-low players to round out the roster and, of course, more future additions. Or free agency in the next 12 months or so.

The Rays have never opened a season with a higher payroll than last year’s total of $83.8MM. That won’t change in 2023, barring an unexpected late addition, but barring a major trade or trade, they look like locks to set a new franchise record for player payroll in 2024. And per Diaz, Ramirez, Poche. , Thompson and Adams are all still unsettled, Tampa Bay could still add a few more guaranteed salaries to that roster by cutting additional multi-year deals with members of their current arbitration unit.

Jeff Passan of ESPN The Rays and Fairbanks agreed to a three-year, $12MM contract with a fourth-year club option, first reported. Joel Sherman of the New York Post Reported the option price and purchase. Mark Tokin of the Tampa Bay Times He reported the high value of the contract and some salary breakdown.

Image courtesy of USA TODAY Sports.

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