If it’s February, it must be time for Jon Heyman to stump for Johnny Damon

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My favorite all-time “Jon Heyman trying to get Johnny Damon a job” column came two years ago when Heyman noted Damon’s “matinee-idol looks and obvious love of the big stage,” and parroted previous Scott Boras comments about Damon’s love of Detroit while wondering why oh why Damon had not yet been signed by someone.

He’s got a new one out now, and it has the air of a conspiracy theory:

Johnny Damon doesn’t get it, doesn’t get why he’s not getting offers after the year he had. Damon didn’t get why he didn’t receive an offer from the incumbent Rays after he was a leader for them in the clubhouse and on the field, and now he doesn’t get why he seemingly is running second as a candidate to be the Yankees’ left-handed DH … It is hard to blame Damon for feeling left out. The whole thing does seem very odd, indeed.

Heyman goes on to note the Yankees’ seeming preference for Raul Ibanez, saying that each of the reasons why the Yankees apparently prefer Ibanez is “sillier than the next.” Judge for yourself, but they don’t sound that silly to me. Ibanez can play defense a little. Damon really can’t. I’d probably still prefer Damnon myself, but it’s not “silly” for someone to disagree on that.

But you know what is silly? That there isn’t one word in the column about what Damon’s contract demands are. Because if you want to compare Damon and Ibanez, or if you want to assess whether Damon not having any contract offers is odd or not, one might want to know whether Damon is offering his services at a reasonable rate.

I think the stuff people say about Heyman being a Scott Boras mouthpiece is over-played. Of course Boras is a source for Heyman, and if you were a reporter and had an awesome source like that you’d report what he gives you too.

But this column seems more like a sales pitch for Johnny Damon’s services than a piece of reportage.

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.