Javier Vazquez hoping physical therapist can help him find lost velocity

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Earlier this week I wrote about how Javier Vazquez’s significant drop in velocity this season makes him far from a sure thing to bounce back in 2011 simply because he was leaving New York and returning to the National League.

Vazquez apparently feels the same way, because Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post reports that “he’s not sure why his fastball velocity was down” and “is working with a physical therapist” in an attempt to find the lost miles per hour.

Here’s what Vazquez had to say about his average fastball declining from 91.1 mph in 2009 to 88.7 mph this season:

It’s a fact that I had a really tough year last year. I guess I can say that I don’t know what happened to my velocity. I guess I’m at a point in my career now, I’m 34, with a lot of innings in my arm. I want to start working with a physical therapist to do exercises and stretching. I’m going to start doing that as part of my off-season and in-season [program].

Capozzi notes that Vazquez has thrown the second-most innings of any pitcher since 2000 and he certainly wouldn’t be the first pitcher to lose significant velocity in his mid-30s, so while a pre-signing MRI exam reportedly revealed no major issues the Marlins are definitely taking a risk with his one-year, $7 million deal.

On the other hand Vazquez is one season removed from a Cy Young-caliber year with the Braves and smartly noted that the Marlins’ ballpark should play to his strengths, saying: “I’m a fly-ball pitcher and [Atlanta’s] ballpark helped me a lot. Hopefully it’s going to be the same in Miami.”

RHP Fairbanks, Rays agree to 3-year, $12 million contract

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Dave Nelson/USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Reliever Pete Fairbanks and the Tampa Bay Rays avoided arbitration when they agreed Friday to a three-year, $12 million contract that could be worth up to $24.6 million over four seasons.

The deal includes salaries of $3,666,666 this year and $3,666,667 in each of the next two seasons. The Rays have a $7 million option for 2026 with a $1 million buyout.

His 2024 and 2025 salaries could increase by $300,000 each based on games finished in the previous season: $150,000 each for 35 and 40.

Tampa Bay’s option price could increase by up to $6 million, including $4 million for appearances: $1 million each for 60 and 70 in 2025; $500,000 for 125 from 2023-25 and $1 million each for 135, 150 and 165 from 2023-25. The option price could increase by $2 million for games finished in 2025: $500,000 each for 25, 30, 35 and 40.

Fairbanks also has a $500,000 award bonus for winning the Hoffman/Rivera reliever of the year award and $200,000 for finishing second or third.

The 29-year-old right-hander is 11-10 with a 2.98 ERA and 15 saves in 111 appearances, with all but two of the outings coming out of the bullpen since being acquired by the Rays from the Texas Rangers in July 2019.

Fairbanks was 0-0 with a 1.13 ERA in 24 appearances last year after beginning the season on the 60-day injured list with a right lat strain.

Fairbanks made his 2022 debut on July 17 and tied for the team lead with eight saves despite being sidelined more than three months. In addition, he is 0-0 with a 3.60 ERA in 12 career postseason appearances, all with Tampa Bay.

He had asked for a raise from $714,400 to $1.9 million when proposed arbitration salaries were exchanged Jan. 13, and the Rays had offered for $1.5 million.

Fairbanks’ agreement was announced two days after left-hander Jeffrey Springs agreed to a $31 million, four-year contract with Tampa Bay that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

Tampa Bay remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, third baseman Yandy Diaz and outfielder Harold Ramirez.