Nyjer Morgan charges mound, incites brawl in Florida

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The same player who threw a ball at a fan in Philadelphia in mid-August, steamrolled an unsuspecting Cardinals backup catcher last week, and gave Marlins catcher Brett Hayes a dislocated shoulder on Tuesday night with a ridiculous hockey-like check at home plate is back at it again.

Nationals outfielder Nyjer Morgan started a benches-clearing clearing brawl on Wednesday night at the Marlins’ Sun
Life Stadium when he charged the mound after Florida right-hander Chris
Volstad threw behind him in the sixth inning. 

Morgan was hit by a Volstad pitch earlier in the night that served as retaliation for his cheap shot on Hayes, but the Fish took exception again when he stole second base and stole third base in a blowout. 

He headed straight toward Volstad after the pitch whizzed by him in the sixth, threw a punch to the pitcher’s face, then was clothes-lined by Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez. 

Volstad got a few grazing shots in on Morgan before Nationals third base coach Pat Listach jumped on the right-hander and held him to the ground.  Listach, while mostly serving as a peacemaker, is sure to see some discipline from Major League Baseball for interfering so violently with a player scuffle. 

Morgan was ejected and screamed at the fans in south Florida before making his exit, pumping his chest in pride.  Volstad was also tossed and is likely to be handed a lengthy suspension.

The Marlins have a series in D.C. in mid-September that should feature even more fireworks.

Jeffrey Springs, Rays agree to $31 million, 4-year contract

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Left-hander Jeffrey Springs became the first of the 33 players who exchanged proposed arbitration salaries with their teams to reach a deal, agreeing Wednesday to a $31 million, four-year contract with the Tampa Bay Rays that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

The 30-year old was among seven Rays who swapped arbitration figures with the team on Jan. 13. He began last season in the bullpen, transitioned to the starting rotation in May and finished 9-5 with a 2.46 ERA in 33 appearances, including 25 starts. He is 14-6 with a 2.70 ERA in 76 outings – 51 of them in relief – since he was acquired from Boston in February 2021.

Springs gets $4 million this year, $5.25 million in 2024 and $10.5 million in each of the following two seasons. Tampa Bay has a $15 million option for 2027 with a $750,000 buyout.

The 2025 and 2026 salaries can escalate by up to $3.75 million each based on innings in 2023-24 combined: $1.5 million for 300, $1 million for 325, $750,000 for 350 and $500,000 for 375. The `25 and ’26 salaries also can escalate based on finish in Cy Young Award voting in `23 and ’24: $2 million for winning, $1.5 million for finishing second through fifth in the voting and $250,000 for finishing sixth through 10th.

Tampa Bay’s option price could escalate based on Cy Young voting in 2025 and 2026: by $2.5 million for winning, $2 million for finishing second through fifth and $500,000 for sixth through 10th.

Springs would get $45.25 million if the option is exercised, $52.75 million with the option and meeting all innings targets and the maximum if he meetings the innings targets and wins two Cy Youngs.

Springs’ ERA last season was the second lowest in franchise history for a pitcher working a minimum of 100 innings. Former Rays ace Blake Snell compiled 1.89 ERA on the way to winning the 2018 AL Cy Young.

In addition to finishing sixth in the AL in ERA, Springs allowed three runs or fewer in 22 of 25 starts and two runs or fewer 17 times. He joined Tampa Bay’s rotation on May 9, gradually increasing his workload over his next six appearances. Springs was 6-3 with a 2.40 ERA in 14 starts after the All-Star break.

Arbitration hearings start next week and the Rays remain with the most players scheduled to appear before three-person panels.

Springs had asked for a raise from $947,500 to $3.55 million and had been offered $2.7 million. Tampa remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam, Pete Fairbanks and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, third baseman Yandy Diaz and outfielder Harold Ramirez.

Tampa Bay also agreed minor league contacts with catcher Gavin Collins and right-hander Jaime Schultz, who will report to major league spring training.

Infielder Austin Shenton and pitchers Anthony Molina and Joe LaSorsa also were invited to big league spring training.