Yankees brass criticizes Greg Bird for being injured

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The New York Yankees season began as a wonderful surprise but, for the past several weeks, it’s been a nightmare. Poor play and injuries to multiple key players have derailed the season and now they sit three and a half back of Boston in the East, trending in the wrong direction.

The poor play — particularly from the bullpen — has been hard to stomach, but injuries just happen, right? No one to blame for injuries. Unless, of course, you’re an anonymous member of the Yankees brass, who believes that there is something wrong with one young injured player for, you know, being injured. This comes from Bill Madden’s latest column at the Daily News:

Much as the Torres and Fowler injuries were downright heartbreaking, the Bird mystery ankle bruise has become merely annoying. Despite numerous tests that have turned up nothing, Bird continues to insist the ankle is still sore — too sore to allow him to play. The Yankee brass has become exasperated with Bird, who’s never been able to stay healthy, and it has gotten to the point where if he doesn’t get back on the field after the All-Star break, they are prepared to move him over the winter.

“You really have to wonder what’s with this guy,” a Yankee insider complained to me earlier this week. “You’d think with Judge and Sanchez, the guys he came up through the system with, doing so well up here he’d want to be a part of this. Apparently not.”

Sure, because a guy spends twenty four years devoting his life to baseball, working his tail off for six years in the minors to transform himself from a fifth round selection to a top prospect and the Yankees first baseman of the future, comes back from serious shoulder surgery and then, suddenly, simply decides that he doesn’t “want to be a part of this.” Clearly he must be lying about his ankle. There’s no WAY he could actually be in pain.

What crap. What utter disdain this cowardly, anonymous Yankees executive has for one of the players expected to be a key part of the Yankees future. How pathetic it is that he so easily dismisses something he likely has no experience with whatsoever, going so far as to question the drive, motivation and character of a 24-year-old athlete.

And how cowardly of the column’s author to not even attempt to push back on this crap narrative. He makes no effort to talk to trainers or coaches or Bird himself to characterize Bird’s injury in anything approaching a balanced way. Rather, he simply allows this Yankees executive to malign Bird with not even a hint of pushback. Maybe he’d be owed a bit of the benefit of the doubt in the normal course, but given how comically and shamelessly wrong he has been in the past by virtue of his work as a mouthpiece for Yankees brass, I suspect it’s too much to ask for him to be even remotely critical.

How about this: when a player says he’s hurt, believe him. And if you don’t believe him, talk to him in private, don’t slander him in the tabloids. That’s low rent garbage.

(h/t River Ave. Blues)

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.