Giants CEO Larry Baer thinks advertisements on uniforms are coming soon

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Longtime HBT reader Phil W. listened to Tom Tolbert and Ray Ratto’s San Francisco Giants podcast on KNBR over the weekend and heard something interesting. Giants CEO Larry Baer was asked about the possibility of Major League Baseball selling advertising space on players’ uniforms. And Baer is both all for it and thinks it’s inevitable.

He noted that Bud Selig was not supportive of it but says that with incoming commissioner Rob Manfred presumably being in the job a long time, there “may be an evolution” toward the idea. Most because of the money:

This is new revenue. And I think there’s always ownership support for new revenue, right? And, I think that also, quite frankly, we are, owners, very cognizant of ticket prices. And, if this is a way to — and I’m not saying it’s going to be mutually exclusive. I’m not saying, ‘Wow, if there’s advertising on uniforms, then ticket prices are going to be frozen for the next five years.’ I’m not giving to say that. But I do believe that, um, that could be potentially a better alternative. We would support, the Giants would support, this is a better alternative than continuous ticket price increases across the board to fund operations . . . I don’t know who would be on the sleeve, or, whatever. Something tells me it will be a sleeve. It would start with a sleeve.”

It’s cute how he thinks that ticket prices wouldn’t go up as often if owners had new revenue streams. As if ticket prices weren’t set, first and only, by a supply/demand calculation. Baseball’s non-ticket revenue has soared in the past 15 years. I don’t recall anyone holding ticket prices flat when that went down. Still, when they do put advertisements on uniforms, watch Major League Baseball tell everyone how it’s all about doing things for the fans like keeping prices low. Don’t believe it for a second, but watch them do it because they think we’re economically illiterate.

But regardless of that and regardless of what you actually think about ads on uniforms, watch for this and many other departures in Major League Baseball policy after Rob Manfred takes control in January. I get a strong sense that there are any number of things that people at MLB’s offices have been in favor of doing for some time but which they’ve held off from doing out of deference to Selig and his transition out. No one wants to put the Commissioner in any sort of controversy and no one wants to have to lobby Bud to do something he may not be inclined to do while he’s a short-timer.

But, to use Baer’s words, watch for “an evolution towards” any number of new things next year.

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.