Major League Baseball is looking for a ballpark … in Europe

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Baseball wants to make inroads in Europe, but unlike the NBA — which can use any old arena — and the NFL — which can use soccer stadiums — baseball has a field problem. As in, there aren’t a lot of baseball diamonds over there big enough for showcase events.

Enter the London Olympics:

The biggest obstacle for MLB in Europe has been to find a facility with the right dimensions and seating capacity, and London’s Olympic Stadium is under consideration …

The London stadium will seat 80,000 spectators for the Olympics. After the games, it will be downsized to a 60,000-capacity multipurpose venue that includes track and field.

An official from MLB International is quoted as saying that, while not perfect, it could work for baseball.  Maybe not Stade Olympique or Turner Field perfect, but it could be done.

Eh. They should build something from scratch. Maybe something akin to the top-end minor league parks being built here now — think Huntington Park here in Columbus — which are fantastic facilities.  The setting for baseball matters way more than it does for other sports. If you want to sell the game to Europeans — and why else would they be doing this — sell it to them in a great place to see a ballgame.  Not an ok-but-flawed conversion project.

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.