Rich Hill’s blister will determine whether he stays in Dodgers’ rotation

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Dodgers’ left-hander Rich Hill is scheduled to rejoin the rotation on Tuesday, manager Dave Roberts announced on Friday. What happens after Tuesday hinges entirely on Hill’s performance — specifically, whether he can continue to build on his strong start to the season and do so without re-aggravating the blister on his pitching hand. If all goes well, the southpaw is likely to stick in the rotation for the foreseeable future; if not, Roberts suggested that Hill might find himself in the bullpen.

It’s been an up-and-down season for the 37-year-old, who allowed four runs in 2/3 innings during a rehab start in High-A Rancho Cucamonga last week. He recovered with a much more impressive outing on Wednesday, tossing five scoreless innings with three walks and three strikeouts. While he’s already gone on the 10-day disabled list twice this season due to persistent blister issues, he appears to have made a full recovery at this point in the season. Given the lefty’s tumultuous history, however, that’s not saying much. It’ll take more than one start to prove he’s regained both his health and his effectiveness on a long-term basis.

Should things go south on Tuesday, the Dodgers could revisit the idea of transferring Hill to a bullpen role. There’s no word yet on whether the transition would be temporary or permanent, but as Joey Kaufman of the Orange County Register remarked last month, it could help the club manage Hill’s blister issues better. The lefty hasn’t pitched in relief since 2014, when he split the season between the Angels’ and Yankees’ bullpens, and currently carries a career 4.38 ERA and 1.86 SO/BB rate over 86 1/3 innings as a reliever.

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.