Russell Martin blames ‘distractions’ for his poor play

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Russell Martin has a good explanation for why he isn’t any good anymore, and it’s not going to be very comforting to Dodgers fans.

Martin, a two-time All-Star catcher who signed a one-year, $4 million deal with New York Yankees this offseason, told Canada’s National Post that, more or less, he just hasn’t been trying very hard, and that’s why he managed just a .680 OPS over the last two seasons.

Why would a guy who makes millions of dollars just to play a game dog it? Because he was distracted, of course.

“I had some distractions that maybe led me not to have that same drive that I’ve had in the past,” he said. “Really, that’s all it is, honestly. I didn’t train quite as–I trained hard, but before, nobody trained as hard as I did.”

Martin wouldn’t explain what those distractions were, though Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times notes that there was concern “in some quarters that Martin was too much the Hollywood party guy.” Also, there was the matter of his distracting girlfriend.

Martin, who turns 28 next month, insists that his problems/distractions/slack attitude are behind him and he is looking forward to joining the Yankees. He said he chose New York over his hometown Toronto Blue Jays because the Yankees have a better chance to win the World Series, but I think it’s because the Yankees have stars who can party, date starlets and play hard, all at the same time. Jeter, A-Rod and the gang can teach him much.

“I think I’ve got a lot to prove,” he said, “especially with the last couple years that I’ve had.” He’s right about that.

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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.