Tom Ricketts plans to reach out to Steve Bartman for “closure”

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Tom Ricketts, owner of the 2016 World Series champion Cubs, plans to reach out to Steve Bartman to provide closure, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

Bartman, you may recall, was the fan who interfered with left fielder Moises Alou on a foul ball catch attempt down the left field line at Wrigley Field in the eighth inning of Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS between the Marlins and Cubs. The ball deflected off of Bartman, much to the chagrin of an angry Alou. The Marlins would go on to have an eight-run inning, overcoming a 3-0 deficit. They would also win Game 7 by a 9-6 margin to advance to the World Series.

Bartman was persona non grata in Chicago almost immediately. As the years went by, Cubs fans’ hatred of Bartman subsided, but he never put himself back in the spotlight. He declined interview and other appearance requests. There was even a push to allow him to throw out the first pitch before one of the Cubs’ World Series games this past postseason, but he declined that as well.

Ricketts said of Bartman, “I’m sure we’ll reach out to him at the right time and I’m sure we’ll figure something out that provides closure for everybody. Hopefully, we can make it work. But you know, I never focused on ghosts or curses or Bartmans or any of that stuff. It’s always been about needing a better team on the field. We wanted to eventually get to that point where we can pick out rings, like we did (Tuesday), and here we are.”

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.