Braves say their first exhibition game in the new ballpark is for season ticket holders only

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The Braves have announced the first game in their new taxpayer-funded ballpark. An exhibition game, that is, against the New York Yankees next March 31. Fun!

If you want to go to that game, however, you have to spend a minimum of $747. Because that’s the absolute cheapest full-season ticket package the Braves offer, in their grandstand infield section, which are the nosebleed seats.

But wait, why would you have to shell out for 81 nosebleed tickets simply to go see an exhibition game in March? Because that exhibition is for the A-Listers only, baby:

The “A-List” is the game the Braves give full season ticket holders, ranging from the folks who pay that $747 for one bad ticket on up to those who pay $41,500 for a single season ticket to sit in the Sun Trust Club right behind home plate.

It’s probably worth noting that even the team with the hottest tickets in all of baseball — probably the San Francisco Giants, who have sold out something like 500 straight games — don’t sell out the park via season tickets. I saw a figure from a year or two ago showing them as having 11,000 seats available for individual game sales. That may be outdated information, but generally speaking, the dream for teams is to sell about 70% of their seats as season ticket packages. Few if any do. According to an official from a club I spoke to this afternoon, even clubs with great attendance have something like 15,000-20,000 seats available for single game sales. Many clubs have far more available.

Which suggests to me that the Braves either (a) are totally cool with their new ballpark being half full, or less, for that exhibition game against the Yankees; or else (b) today’s claim that the game will be available for A-Listers only is an effort to spur some season ticket sales and that, between now and March, that policy will be relaxed and single tickets will be available for that game.

All is fair in love, war and marketing, so good luck to them on that. This isn’t doing all that much, however, for the perception that the Braves move to their new ballpark is a cash grab aimed at maxing out rich fan patronage while leaving fans of lesser means out in the cold.

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.