Agent Casey Close rips the Astros and Major League Baseball over how they’re handling the Brady Aiken situation

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The Astros selected Brady Aiken as the first overall pick in the draft last month. But then he developed some sort of arm issue — maybe — and now the Astros are trying to play hardball with him in order to get him to agree to a lower-than-expected bonus with the signing deadline looming on Friday. Aiken’s agent, Casey Close, is not pleased. Ken Rosenthal relays Aiken’s comments:

“We are extremely disappointed that Major League Baseball is allowing the Astros to conduct business in this manner with a complete disregard for the rules governing the draft and the 29 other clubs who have followed those same rules,” Close said.

The Astros and Major League Baseball, however, deny that anything untoward is happening (and Close does not specify what rule, exactly, he believes is being violated). What’s more, there is disagreement on whether or not Aiken is injured. The Astros have said that Aiken’s physical revealed “abnormalities” in his arm. Close says Aiken is perfectly healthy. Probably worth noting that Close does not have a reputation of a bomb-thrower as far as agents go.

Is this a tough-but-acceptable position the Astros are taking, or have they crossed a line? From a distance it’s impossible to tell. Nor is it at all clear if this is pre-signing deadline posturing or evidence of a significant rift that could derail the Aiken-Astros marriage. It’s certainly high-stakes stuff for Aiken and Close, in that if the sense takes hold that Aiken is somehow damaged goods it could affect his value later on down the line if he goes to college and then re-enters the draft.

Stay tuned.

 

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.