Rob Manfred chats baseball with former President George W. Bush

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New MLB commissioner Rob Manfred chatted with former President George W. Bush at the Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, Texas last night and addressed a number of topics regarding the state of baseball.

Bush hosted Manfred in advance of a new exhibit at the presidential library. “Baseball: America’s Presidents, America’s Pastime” opens to the public today and will examine baseball’s relationship with America’s presidents.

Bush, who once owned the Texas Rangers, asked Manfred about instant replay, pace of play, the chances of expansion in Mexico City, and whether he would vote someone who used steroids into the Hall of Fame. Interestingly, Manfred said the only autographed baseball he owns is from Bush, who signed it after he threw out the first pitch before Game 3 of the 2001 World Series.

My favorite exchange might have been this below, via Richard Justice of MLB.com:

Bush asked if Manfred had always been a baseball fan.

“I grew up a Yankee fan,” Manfred said.

When the crowd booed, Bush said, “Good, Rob. Welcome to Texas anyway.”

The conversation was about 45 minutes, but here’s a quick clip below. You can see more at MLB.com:

[mlbvideo id=”50719183″ width=”400″ height=”224″ /]

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.