Dave Henderson, Bobby Dews, Jim O’Toole and Joe Strauss died over the weekend

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The baseball world was hit hard over the weekend with the deaths of several members of the baseball community. Red Sox and Athletics outfielder Dave Henderson, Reds pitcher Jim O’Toole, Braves coach Bobby Dews and St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Joe Strauss all passed away over the weekend.

Dave Henderson died Sunday after suffering a massive heart attack. He was 57. He had had a kidney transplant in October. Hendu, as he was known by many, was an excellent hitter who launched one of the most famous home runs in postseason history when he went yard against Donnie Moore in the 1986 ALCS. His blast kept the Red Sox alive in that deciding Game 5 when the Sox were one strike away from elimination. Henderson was not just a one-trick pony, however. He played on four World Series teams and played 14 seasons total in the majors, hitting .275 with 84 homers, 123 doubles and 322 RBIs and posting a line of .258/.320/.436, which works out to an OPS+ of 108.

O’Toole was a really, really fine pitcher for the 1960s Reds, starting Game 1 of the 1961 World Series for Cincinnati after going 19-9 with a 3.10 ERA that year. In all he played ten years in the bigs, winning 98 games and making the All-Star team in 1963. O’Toole was 78 and died of cancer.

Bobby Dews played in the St. Louis Cardinals’ organization from 1960 to 1970, appearing in 142 games at the Triple-A level. He went on to manage in the Cards’ minor league system but ended up spending the final 37 of his 53 years in baseball with the Braves’ organization in various capacities, including big league coach and minor league manager, retiring in 2012. He died of natural causes at age 76.

Finally, St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Joe Strauss died of leukemia at age 54. Strauss covered all sports in his career, but was best known for his baseball work, serving as a beat writer covering the Orioles, Braves and Cardinals prior to becoming a full-time columnist. Strauss liked to challenge the assumptions of his readers, doing God’s work at rooting out the homerish tendencies of St. Louis sports fans. This got him labeled a troll by some and enraged a few, but that sort of voice is much-needed in sports journalism and no one gave it better voice than he did. More importantly, his work was always top notch. He wrote eloquently on deadline and was always a thought-provoking columnist, never retreating to the cliches or evergreen topics so many of his peers do.

Sad to see those four go. Good to know they will always be remembered.

RHP Fairbanks, Rays agree to 3-year, $12 million contract

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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.