The Tampa Bay Rays extended two players — Jeffrey Springs and Pete Fairbanks — this past week, while they are working toward extending the contract of Yandy Díaz as well.
Springs will be guaranteed $31 million over the course of his four-year deal which also includes incentives and a $15 million club option for 2027 with a $750 thousand buyout. Should Springs hit all the incentives, including Cy Young Award escalators, and the club picks up his option, he’ll earn $65.75 million over five seasons.
He will earn $4 million this season, $5.25 million next season, followed by $10.5 million in each of the following two seasons. The left-hander was slated to reach free agency after the 2024 campaign, so this could allow Tampa Bay to secure him for three additional seasons should they trigger his option.
Springs put up a 3.43 ERA and 3.91 FIP across 43 appearances in 2021 while striking out 35.2% of the batters he faced and walking a mere 7.8% of them. Last season, he started in the bullpen while the club began stretching him into a starter as the season progressed. He was fantastic, tossing 135.1 innings of 2.46 ERA (3.04 FIP) ball, with a 4.68 K/BB and a 40.9% ground ball rate. Steamer projects the left-hander to regress to a respectable 3.74 ERA and 3.84 FIP in ’23, with an 8.95% strikeout rate to a 2.75% walk rate across 141 presumed innings.
Fairbanks is reportedly guaranteed $12 million over the next three seasons including a $1 million buyout for the 2026 season. The right-hander will be paid $3.67 million annually between 2023-25, while the option comes with a $7 million base value which also contains various incentives and escalators that could max it out at $24.6 million across four seasons.
Over the past four seasons, Fairbanks has pitched to a 3.46 ERA and a 2.83 FIP with a 12.67% strikeout rate and a 3.78 walk rate across 114.1 frames. It should be noted that over the last three seasons, the righty owns a 2.70 ERA and a 33.8% strikeout rate over 93.1 innings.
Fairbanks has been prevented from working a full slate of innings over a 162-game season. Two seasons ago, he twice landed on the injured list due to shoulder troubles — first, a strained rotator cuff followed by a bout of inflammation — missing roughly a month each time. He missed more than three months last season due to a lat strain.
Durability concerns aside, his ’22 campaign illustrates the dominant arm the Rays are locking up via this deal. His heater averaged a blistering 99.2 mph while he maintained a 1.13 ERA and 0.86 FIP with a superb 43.7% strikeout rate (including a 17% whiff rate), a 3.4% walk rate, and an above-average 53.3% ground-ball rate. Fairbanks didn’t allow a run over his final 22 innings of the season. And while he is projected to regress to a 2.92 ERA/2.86 FIP/3.60 K:BB, that is a more than serviceable slash line.
2/1/2023 Update: The Rays formally announced their extension with Díaz on Tuesday. The infielder will be paid $6 million in 2023, $8 million in 2024 and $10 million in 2025. The extension also includes a $12 million option for a fourth season, which does not contain a buyout.
The Rays and Yandy Díaz are close to finalizing a three-year, $24 million deal that contains a club option for 2026.
The extension would cover Díaz’s final two seasons of arbitration control and at least one of his free agent-eligible seasons. He and the Rays were slated for an arbitration hearing to determine his ’23 salary after not reaching an agreement by the filing deadline — the infielder was seeking $6.3 million and the club countered with $5.5 million. However, it now looks like Díaz will be the third arbitration-hearing-bound Rays player to sign an extension this week.
Díaz slashed .266 BA/.359 OBP/.418 SLG/.777 OPS over his first three seasons in Tampa Bay, good for a solid 117 wRC+ over 1026 plate appearances. His production was up last season, with Díaz posting a 146 wRC+ while hitting .296 BA/.401 OBP/.423 SLG/.824 OPS with nine homers over 558 PA. He crushed southpaws last season to the tune of an .892 OPS over 145 PA.
Díaz has never been known for his glovework — his defensive metrics have been below average over 1282.1 innings as a third baseman since 2020. However, the Rays could roll Díaz out more often as a first baseman in 2023 and beyond.
Locking up the infielder is a good move for Tampa Bay. While his 146 wRC+ is a high-water mark for Díaz, there isn’t much to suggest that those numbers are anomalous, and it’s reasonable for the Rays to expect roughly similar production going forward (over the life of the extension). In-kind, and per Steamer, he is expected to slash .282 BA/.379 OBP/.424 SLG/.803 OPS, with a .354 wOBA, a 138 wRC+, and a 4.0 fWAR in 2023.
The Rays still have another four players with unresolved arbitration cases: First baseman/outfielder Harold Ramirez ($2.2 million vs. $1.9 million), left-hander Colin Poche ($1.3 million vs. $1.175 million), right-hander Ryan Hander ($1.2 million vs. $1 million) and right-hander Jason Adam ($1.775 million vs. $1.55 million). The four exchanged figures with the team on January 13 after being unable to come to terms on a one-year salary figure.