Unsigned reliever Rafael Soriano finally finds a home with the Cubs

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Cubs manager Joe Maddon announced recently that he’s going to a closer-by-committee approach and now the team has signed free agent reliever Rafael Soriano, who saved 30-plus games in each of the past three seasons.

Last month Soriano fired his agent, Scott Boras, and scheduled a throwing session for interested teams to come watch him in an effort to land a job for the second half. He previously pitched for Maddon with the Rays in 2010, when Soriano saved a league-high 45 games.

Soriano had a very rough second half for the Nationals last season, which along with being 35 years old and reportedly holding out for big money led to him going unsigned. However, he has a long track record of late-inning excellence that includes a 2.85 ERA and 637 strikeouts in 631 career innings and Soriano has posted a sub-3.25 ERA in eight of the past nine seasons.

It’s a minor-league contract, so expect Soriano to make at least a few appearances in the minors to get back into game shape before joining the Cubs’ bullpen. And don’t be surprised if he’s pitching the ninth inning in Chicago relatively soon. James Wagner of the Washington Post reports that the deal has a prorated base salary of $4.1 million, plus another $4 million in potential incentives.

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.