T.J. Simers’ interview with the Dodgers owners went about as well as expected

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Yesterday I slammed T.J. Simers for apparently prejudging the Dodgers owners in advance of his conference call with them yesterday morning. He seemed to be doing his Simers thing: looking to pick a fight and put his subject on the defensive, then turn around and say “god, what a bunch of clowns” rather than actually try to learn anything from his subject. Which is what he always does, of course.

And based on the column describing the call, that’s exactly what he did.  Focusing on petty things like the fact that Magic Johnson sat next to Frank McCourt at a game last month, which Simers has been harping on ever since. I guess Johnson could have punched out McCourt — woulda made Simers happy — but it may have presented some problems getting the deal closed.

But beyond a couple of those sorts of things, to the extent this went poorly for the Dodgers owners, it wasn’t all on Simers. It sounded like Mark Walter, Magic Johnson and Stan Kasten didn’t exactly do their best to come off well:

I asked Magic about the owners’ introductory news conference. It appeared he had misled folks or was not aware of the parking-lot lease that will benefit McCourt.

Magic told the media McCourt wasn’t going to get a dime.

“I didn’t say anything wrong,” Magic said.

“I was expecting an apology,” I said.

“About what?”

“About misleading people in thinking Frank won’t get a dime.” I read to him what he had said at the news conference.

“I already told the truth; we’ll move on to the next question,” he said.

As I noted last week, it does appear that Johnson was either misleading or was simply uninformed when he said what he said. And being snippy about it later, even if taunted into being so by Simers, is not the best stance to take. There were several other testy exchanges in which the owners didn’t come off particularly well.

T.J. Simers is likely not an easy person to deal with, but most players don’t take his bait and get into it with him like this. They usually smile and deflect him, probably having been given a briefing about his schtick during spring training.  One would think that the team’s owners would have someone brief them on him too.

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.