You should order the Hardball Times Annual

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I’m happy to report that you can now order The Hardball Times Annual for 2012.  Get it here.

For those unfamiliar, the THT Annual has scads of articles with history, commentary, analysis and, of course, retrospectives of the 2011 season by some of the best writers going.

For the past few years I’ve contributed some laughs and yuks to the Annual in the form of my “Year in Frivolity” feature — recapping the funny and absurd stuff that went on during the year — and this year is no different. In addition to my b.s., there’s this sort of thing:

  • Rob Neyer has a piece breaking down the work of Theo Epstein;
  • Chris Jaffe lists the all-time managers in terms of who had the quickest and who had the slowest hooks;
  • THT honcho Dave Studeman breaking down the insane last day of the season;
  • Frequent HBT commenter Jack Marshall writing about the “baseball year in ethics;”
  • Brian Borawski writing about the “baseball year in business;”
  • Max Marchi writing about the pitchers who, because they themselves were amazing, drew the most fans to the ballpark;
  • John Dewan and Michael Humphreys have some great stuff on evaluating defense;
  • Brian Cartwright has an article about what to do with ground ball pitchers when it comes to BABIP;

And as always, there’s much, much more. A broader overview of its contents can be read here.

The THT Annual is a must-read for baseball nuts. It’s a great gift too.  And of course, buying it helps the folks over at The Hardball Times keep the lights on, and that’s fantastic, because those folks do God’s work.

Once again, order it here.  You won’t be disappointed.

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.