The Albert Pujols deadline was a big mistake

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Here’s Joe Strauss’ latest on the State of the Pujols negotiations.  Not much new in there other than the tidbit that Pujols’ agent Dan Lozano and Cadinals’ GM John Mozeliak are “in regular contact.”

All of this stuff — the deadline, the moving of the deadline for Musial’s thing, etc. — just makes me think that if it was Albert Pujols’ goal to limit the distractions of his contract status, he was probably way better off not setting a deadline at all.

Really: if it was wide open and fluid and talks could theoretically go on during the season, how many people would be writing stuff about his contract status right now?  Not many, I imagine.  It would be relegated to paragraph five of standard spring training stories, and would be tossed off with ” … and winning this year takes on greater importance given that it could be Albert Pujols’ last season in St. Louis.  That will be decided this winter, however. For now, the Cardinals look like the should challenge for the division crown if …”

Instead this is being watched like someone’s execution.  Deadline on Tuesday! No, wait! The governor called and has delayed it until tomorrow morning.  Pujols was just fed his last meal!  He’s walking out now! No contract has been signed!  Protesters are holding a vigil outside the gates of the stadium!

Just because negotiations proceed doesn’t mean that they need to be a distraction to the player.  The agent can see to that. Hell, the agent could just humor the team all summer and never bother the player at all.  Maybe that’s not ideal, but if, as Pujols says, avoiding distractions is the name of the game, such a course couldn’t have been worse than setting this ultra-dramatic cutoff tomorrow.

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.