Matt Wieters headlines 2011 class of “Fielding Bible Awards”

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It’s tough to take the Gold Glove awards too seriously these days. Fortunately we also have the Fielding Bible Awards around to recognize the best defensive players at each position.

For those unfamiliar, the Fielding Bible Awards are voted on by a 10-person panel of experts, including Bill James, Peter Gammons, Rob Neyer, Joe Posnanski, John Dewan and the Baseball Info Solutions (BIS) scouting team. This is the sixth edition of the awards, which recognizes players from both leagues.

Below are your 2011 winners:

C – Matt Wieters, Orioles
1B – Albert Pujols, Cardinals
2B – Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox
SS – Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
3B – Adrian Beltre, Rangers
LF – Brett Gardner, Yankees
CF – Austin Jackson, Tigers
RF – Justin Upton, Diamondbacks
P – Mark Buehrle, White Sox

Hard to find much to complain about here, as all are considered elite defenders. The biggest news here is that Wieters supplants Yadier Molina, who won the previous four Fielding Bible awards at catcher. Mark Buehrle takes the prize for a third straight year while Troy Tulowitzki and Brett Gardner also repeat at their respective positions.

By the way, we won’t have to wait too long to find out who the Gold Glove winners are. While MLB has traditionally announced them via press release, ESPN2 will unveil the winners for each league with a live one-hour telecast tomorrow night at 10 p.m. ET. Finalists for each position were announced earlier today, presumably in an effort to increase the drama, which is yet another first. Of note, last year’s Gold Glove award winner Derek Jeter is not among the finalists for shortstop in the American League while 2011 Fielding Bible award winners Albert Pujols and Justin Upton were also left off.

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.