The Nats and Astros need a change in Florida law to get their new spring training facility

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The Nats and Astros are just about ready to go on their new spring training facility in Palm Beach County. There’s only one hitch: a pesky little law designed to keep drinking water safe:

Moving forward requires the Florida Legislature to shrink a protective zone along the M canal, which borders the southern end of the proposed stadium and community park. The canal delivers water from the Grassy Waters Preserve to the lakes that the city taps for its water supply.

Shrinking the buffer zone alongside the portion of the canal that touches the proposed stadium site would allow room for creating grass parking lots that could double as community soccer fields outside of baseball season.

The buffer zone is currently 450 feet. They need it reduced to 50 feet. The West Palm Beach city commission is urging the legislature to act because spring training facilities = money.

At least they’re honest about that. By the time this turns into an actual proposed law and people start arguing about it, I’m guessing people in support of the change will talk about how ridiculous it is to think the larger buffer zone is needed for clean water, even if no one thought it was all that ridiculous when the most important consideration regarding that land was its impact on clean water. Indeed, I’ll bet people who didn’t say boo when the zone was created will suddenly start talking about how crazy a 450ft buffer zone is and that 50 is all that was ever needed.

But hey, baseball for six weeks a year is more important than drinking water, right?

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.