UPDATE: Yankees invite C.J. Wilson to New York

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The competition for the top starting pitcher of this year’s free agent class is beginning to intensify.

After the Angels wined and dined C.J. Wilson’s agent Bob Garber last night in Milwaukee, Marc Carig of the Newark Star-Ledger reports that the Yankees have invited the free-agent left-hander to New York to meet with “team decision-makers.”

The invitation was made when Yankees general manager Brian Cashman met with Garber this afternoon. While Garber also represents free agent right-hander Roy Oswalt, he said this particular meeting was mostly focused on Wilson.

“I told him where we were at, they understood, and want us to come out,” Garber said at the general managers’ meetings. “I think it’s a good fit. We have a lot of teams we have to narrow down. I think the Yankees are a team that we’ve narrowed down as a team we want to spend a little time with.”

“At this point, there’s still six or seven teams we’re in serious talks with,” Garber said, counting the Yankees among them. “(Cashman) knew (Wilson) was the Cliff Lee of this year and didn’t want to come out short. I just liked his aggressiveness.”

Garber told Carig that the meeting in New York, which will take place on an unspecified date, will be attended by Cashman, Yankees director of pro personnel Billy Eppler and Hal Steinbrenner.

While Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times wrote yesterday that Wilson is likely to command a six-year deal in the $100 million range, Carig has him around five years and $90 million. It’s still very early, but having the Yankees involved in the conversation will surely up the ante for all interested teams.

UPDATE: Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that Wilson and his agent have requested a visit to the Yankees before next month’s winter meetings. The Bombers are said to be considering the request.

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.