Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart open to acquiring a closer

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Per Bob Nightengale of USA Today, Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart said that while current closer Brad Ziegler hasn’t done anything to merit losing his grip on the closer’s role, he would be open to acquiring another closer or at least another high leverage reliever.

Following Saturday’s trade with the Brewers which brought Jean Segura into the fold, the D-Backs have a surfeit of depth up the middle including Nick Ahmed and Chris Owings. One of them could potentially be put in a trade to bring a reliever back to Arizona.

Ziegler, 36, performed quite well as the Diamondbacks’ regular closer last season, saving 30 games in 31 opportunities since taking over on May 21. In his 68 total innings, he struck a grand total of 36 batters but walked only 17 while inducing a rather high amount of ground balls. Among relievers who racked up at least 50 innings last season, Ziegler’s 72.8 percent ground ball rate was bested only by the Orioles’ Zach Britton (79.1 percent). Ziegler isn’t the prototypical closer and given his age, it’s understandable why the club would look for better options elsewhere.

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.