Should the Reds trade Johnny Cueto to the Red Sox for Yoenis Cespedes (and stuff)?

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We’re in that lull between the end of the season and the heating up of the hot stove, and that’s a good time for throwing spaghetti up agains the wall to see if it sticks. Or whatever other metaphors you like in the “let’s make up possible trade scenarios” vein. David Cameron has an intriguing one over at Fox: Johnny Cueto for Yoenis Cespedes.

Now, to be clear, he acknowledges that Cueto — one of the top pitchers in baseball — is more valuable than Cespedes, and acknowledges that the Sox would have to throw in more than just Cespedes to get him. They’d need to put in some young, team-controlled players and/or some salary relief that would allow the Reds to seek some cheaper pitching to fill in the innings lost by Cueto’s departure.

But the basic bones of the deal are that (a) the Reds have A LOT of free agents and commitments in the near future; (b) they need to part with some of them; (c) Cueto is clearly the most valuable trade commodity they have; and (d) the contracts and situations between him and Cespedes are roughly comparable.

I’ll agree with his view that Cespedes’ power would play well in Great American Ballpark. I also think, however, that the Reds would need A LOT more, probably more than Cameron suggests, to part with Cueto. Indeed, given Cueto’s skill and his proven track record of pitching well in a place that eats some pitchers alive, one would think that the Reds would part with him only if they positively, absolutely had to, choosing to let others go instead.

But, like I said, it’s spaghetti season, we’re not general managers, and it’s fun to at least talk about this stuff.

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.