Nolan Ryan expects Josh Hamilton to hit the free agent market

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Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reported earlier this month that the Rangers had reopened negotiations with hot-hitting outfielder Josh Hamilton on a possible long-term contract extension, but it appears there’s little chance of an agreement coming together during the season.

Rangers president and CEO Nolan Ryan told Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas.com last night that the team hasn’t negotiated with Hamilton’s representatives since spring training and that they expect him to test the free agent market this offseason.

“We haven’t carried on the negotiations during the season because we don’t feel like it’s fair to Josh,” said Ryan, who pointed out general manager Jon Daniels spoke briefly with Hamilton’s agent during spring training. “And we don’t want to do something that will be a distraction.”

“…We are certainly in hopes that we’ll able to work a deal out with him. But I think [Hamilton and his agent] had the mindset they’ll go through the season and see what happens and see what the market is for Josh Hamilton. It’s hard to make any kind of prediction where that will go. I think it’s probably pretty much where we are.”

Ryan expects something will be decided in late November or early December, which means they’ll have as good a chance to sign him as anyone else. If Hamilton manages to stay on the field and keeps producing at an elite level, his best offer could come elsewhere.

Hamilton, who turns 31 on Monday, is hitting .392/.444/.804 with 18 homers, 45 RBI and a 1.249 OPS across 162 plate appearances this season.

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.