Chris Ilitch to be the Tigers owner

Associated Press
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This is not at all surprising, but as this story in the Detroit News makes clear, Chris Ilitch, son of Mike, will now ascend to the Tigers’ ownership chair by virtue of his father’s passing. Major League Baseball will, eventually, designate him the control person of the franchise.

As the story notes, Chris Ilitch has been running the day-to-day operations of Ilitch Holdings, Inc. for years. That’s the company which manages all of his parents’ business interests, including the Tigers, the Red Wings, Little Caesars Pizza, the new Little Caesar’s Arena and the Motor City Casino, which is operated by his mother. As such, there will be little if any change in continuity with respect to the company.

The article is nonetheless enlightening as a piece of perspective. The family business he now helms has revenue of around $3.4 billion. All of major league baseball takes in around $10 billion. As such, the Tigers’ portion of Ilitch Holdings is relatively small, all things considered, especially compared to the amount of attention they receive by virtue of being a professional sports team.

Mike Ilitch was lauded as a generous owner due to his willingness to put money into his team and to sign and retain players who excited the fan base. And he certainly was. The reality of the situation, however, is that what constituted big splashes for the baseball team were relatively small potatoes in the context of the larger business empire, so Ilitch could certainly afford to do it. Ilitch was generous, yes, but he was no fool and did not take silly risks.

There are many baseball owners, however, who are wealthier or who operate larger businesses with greater revenue than Ilitch had and nonetheless place tight budgets on their ballclubs and take every opportunity to explain how they’re just getting by or, in some cases, losing money.

When Ilitch passed over the weekend, he was widely praised. Not all baseball owners are when they shuffle off. There’s likely a lesson to be learned in all of that.

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

tampa bay rays
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.