The addition of Michael Bourn was a masterful move for the Braves

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Adding Michael Bourn is not going to make the Braves make up five games on the Phillies, but it was a masterful move all the same.  Simply a great trade for Atlanta any way you look at it.

First Bourn:  he’s an elite center fielder, obviously.  You can look at the gold gloves if you want to, though I don’t advise it.  Look instead at the advanced defensive metrics which suggest that he’s easily the best defensive center fielder in the National League and, short of Franklin Gutierrez, probably the best in baseball.  He is also an elite base runner, successful in 83% of his stolen base attempts in his career.

That glove and those legs have allowed him to more than make up for a fair-at-best bat these past few years, but this season has been an offensive breakthrough for him, as he’s hitting .303/.363/.403.  His on base percentage is up, mostly because he has been a bit hit-lucky this year, but his power numbers are interesting. He has never been a home run hitter and still isn’t, but he already has more doubles and triples this season than he had all of last year.

So, acquiring Bourn is clearly a great move for Atlanta, who was in desperate need of an outfielder, especially a center fielder.  What’s crazy though is just how great a deal they got for him.

While I have seen some commentary this morning about how the Braves are “high on Jordan Schafer,” I think the best way to take that is that they’re high on him in much the same way you might get high on a hallucinatory drug.  He is clearly overmatched by major league pitching and has shown no real progress in that regard over the past few years.  None of the prospects involved — Brett Oberholtzer, Paul Clemens and Juan Abreu — are top tier guys.  And the fact that the Astros are sending the Braves money in this deal is borderline criminal.

When I saw the good deal that the Phillies got for Hunter Pence — likewise not having to give up their best prospects — I sighed “well, there goes Ed Wade, playing favorites with his old employer again.”  Guess Wade decided to share the wealth with the Braves as well.

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.