It’s not Jack Morris hunting season, but the meat is still tasty

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Denigrating Jack Morris’ Hall of Fame case is a winter tradition unmatched by anything this side of Christmas. Oh, the warmth I have been provided by hours of “pitching to the score” arguments in those dark late December and early January days!

But, surprisingly, it’s just as nice in May too.  Because I got a nice little feeling of happiness reading Rany Jazayerli’s latest column over at Grantland — about the current Detroit Tigers — which found the time to drop the following aside about the 1984 Detroit Tigers:

That team wasn’t built around superstars, though — 28 years later, not one member of the 1984 Tigers is in the Hall of Fame.

Then the footnote:

The good news is that one of the 1984 Tigers may be inducted in the next year or two. The bad news is that it will be Jack Morris, who was maybe the fifth-best player on the team.

For what it’s worth, three of those better players are clearly Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker and Darrell Evans, all of whom should be in the Hall of Fame before Jack Morris.  The fourth may be open for debate. Chet Lemon was pretty great even though no one remembers him now. Kirk Gibson was on that team and had a great year. I’m not exactly sure who Rany is referencing as the fourth, but there are multiple candidates.

Anyway, I know it’s not Hall of Fame season, but it’s always worth reminding ourselves of Jack Morris’ place in the universe.

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.