Sean Doolittle and Eireann Dolan: not sticking to baseball


Sean Doolittle of the Oakland A’s and Eireann Dolan of HBT’s corporate cousin, CSN Bay Area, both work in sports. They do not, however, “stick to sports,” as many fans would have athletes do. They’re both active in their community and active in causes that matter to them, as this excellent profile by Tyler Kepner of the New York Times demonstrates.

Oakland Baseball’s first couple are not unique among sports figures in their philanthropic impulses, of course. Almost all players do charity work and community outreach in important and sincere ways and both Major League Baseball and the MLBPA make a point to recognize such efforts with awards each year.

As Kepner notes, however, Doolittle and Dolan are different in a sense in that, while Doolittle does a great deal of the same sorts of things a lot of players do — work with veterans’ groups being a prime example — some of the things they do are outside of the purview of typical baseball philanthropy, with LGBT outreach and work with Syrian refugees being the two most prominent examples. As Kepner notes, these are the sorts of things that are “rarely discussed, let alone endorsed, in the strongly right-leaning culture of the baseball clubhouse.”

In the past, when Doolittle and Dolan’s work with this stuff has been highlighted, many criticized them for being “political.” I find it sad and, in many ways, telling, that being involved in outreach to the marginalized and ostracized is considered a political stance or a man-bites-dog story as opposed to a simple matter of human decency. It is certainly not incumbent on anyone to get involved in such causes, but if you actually take issue with people who support the victims of intolerance and discrimination, what are you actually advocating?

That’s an unexamined question in society at large, and certainly one not often discussed in the unique culture of baseball. However it’s answered, here’s hoping that, in the future, the mere fact baseball players care about such things is not as newsworthy as the actual efforts they undertake are.

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

tampa bay rays
Dave Nelson/USA TODAY Sports

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.