Pete Fairbanks has signed a $12 million, three-year deal with the Tampa Bay Rays

Pete Fairbanks has signed a $12 million, three-year deal with the Tampa Bay Rays

It was made public on Friday that reliever Pete Fairbanks had agreed to a three-year, $12 million contract extension with the Tampa Bay Rays that included a club option for a fourth season.

Fairbanks, 29, was dominant for the last two months of the 2022 season. He pitched 22 scoreless innings, striking out 36 people, giving up 9 hits, and walking 3 of them. Due to a torn lat muscle, Fairbanks missed the first 312 games of the season, but his return was similar to those of the previous two seasons, when he had become a strikeout machine.

The agreement, which began this season and covers all three of Fairbanks’ arbitration years, also caused their next-week arbitration hearing to be postponed. Fairbanks would be guaranteed a $1 million buyout and a salary of $7 million with escalators to $11 million under the club option.

After Fairbanks struggled in his first two big league seasons with Texas, the Rays traded him to the Rays in 2019 for second baseman Nick Solak. In 2017, Fairbanks had his second Tommy John surgery, and he was plagued by health-related questions. Fairbanks had the tools of a front-line reliever, though, with a fastball in the upper 90s and a slider at 90 mph. If he stayed healthy, he had a huge ceiling.

Fairbanks learned to use both pitches while working for Tampa Bay. After striking out 39 in 26.2 innings in his first season with the Rays, he continued to pitch in high-leverage situations in 2021. In 2022, he did this even more, making eight saves in 24 appearances while improving his wipeout slider and increasing his average fastball velocity to 99 mph.

Relief pitchers with resumes like Fairbanks’ frequently do not receive compensation that is proportional to their value in the system as a result of arbitration’s disproportionate reward for savers. Getting an option on Fairbanks’ first free agent year was enticing enough to bring both parties to an agreement, and the Tampa Bay guarantee was a hedge against that.

The Rays, who entered arbitration season with seven potential cases on the docket, completed the second long-term deal this week.

After a breakout 2022 in which he posted a 2.46 earned run average, including a 2.66 mark in 25 starts, in which he struck out 133 and walked 28 in 125 innings, left-hander Jeffrey Springs agreed to a $31 million contract for four years.