What’s on Tap: Previewing Monday’s action

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The lowly Padres are in town to take on the streaking Cubs at Wrigley Field at 8:05 PM EDT on Monday night. Sitting at 13-19 in last place, 2016 has been another disappointing year for the Padres. But tonight’s starter, Cesar Vargas, has been a rare bright spot for the club.

Vargas, 24, got the call up from Double-A San Antonio on April 23 when Tyson Ross succumbed to a shoulder injury. He has impressed thus far, limiting the opposition to just two runs on 13 hits and nine walks with 12 strikeouts in 16 1/3 innings across three starts. Vargas has done it against quality competition. He made his major league debut against the Cardinals, then followed that up with a road start against the Dodgers. His most recent start was against the Rockies, whohave unsurprisingly ranked among the league’s better offenses.

Not to rain on the Vargas parade, but he’ll have to improve his control if he wants to succeed over the long term. His walk rate of 13.4 percent, if he had enough innings to qualify, would be the fourth-highest in the game. The major league average is 8.2 percent. Furthermore, Vargas hasn’t missed bats often with a K-rate just under 18 percent (league average: 20.6 percent).

The Cubs will be Vargas’ toughest opponent yet. At 24-6, the Cubs own baseball’s best record in part due to having the best offensive attack in the game. The club averages 6.13 runs per game and has the best on-base percentage at .368. To make matters worse for Vargas tonight, he’ll have to out-duel Jon Lester, who is 3-1 with a 1.58 ERA and a 38/9 K/BB ratio in 40 innings in his first six starts of the season.

The rest of Monday’s action…

Detroit Tigers (Anibal Sanchez) @ Washington Nationals (Stephen Strasburg), 7:05 PM EDT

Kansas City Royals (Chris Young) @ New York Yankees (Ivan Nova), 7:05 PM EDT

Milwaukee Brewers (Wily Peralta) @ Miami Marlins (Jose Fernandez), 7:10 PM EDT

Oakland Athletics (Sonny Gray) @ Boston Red Sox (Clay Buchholz), 7:10 PM EDT

Pittsburgh Pirates (Jon Niese) @ Cincinnati Reds (Dan Straily), 7:10 PM EDT

Chicago White Sox (Miguel Gonzalez) @ Texas Rangers (Colby Lewis), 8:05 PM EDT

Baltimore Orioles (Tyler Wilson) @ Minnesota Twins (Jose Berrios), 8:10 PM EDT

Cleveland Indians (Corey Kluber) @ Houston Astros (Mike Fiers), 8:10 PM EDT

Arizona Diamondbacks (Archie Bradley) @ Colorado Rockies (Tyler Chatwood), 8:40 PM EDT

New York Mets (Steven Matz) @ Los Angeles Dodgers (Scott Kazmir), 10:10 PM EDT

Tampa Bay Rays (Matt Moore) @ Seattle Mariners (Felix Hernandez), 10:10 PM EDT

Toronto Blue Jays (Aaron Sanchez) @ San Francisco Giants (Jake Peavy), 10:15 PM EDT

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.