Jesse Biddle gets call up to majors

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On Wednesday, the Braves placed reliever Jose Ramirez on the 10-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation and called up reliever Jesse Biddle from Triple-A Gwinnett.

Lots of minor leaguers get to the call to the majors in any given year, but Biddle’s promotion is even better because of everything he has endured in his career that has served as a roadblock. The 26-year-old was selected by the Phillies 27th overall in the 2010 draft. Biddle was one of baseball’s top prospects in the 2012-14 seasons, but as he reached the upper levels of the minors, he ran into some really tough luck.

In April 2013, Biddle came down with whooping cough. In an interview with Kelsie Heneghan for MiLB.com in 2014, Biddle said, “It became very difficult when every pitch, I felt like I was going to cough up my lung.”

In May 2014, Biddle was caught in a hailstorm. After hail shattered both windshields in his car, Biddle escaped to seek shelter elsewhere, but was struck in the back of the head by a hailstone and suffered a concussion. Via the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Bob Brookover, Biddle said, “After that, I didn’t really feel right and I was very confused. I had a concussion when I was younger, but I didn’t really remember what it felt like.” 2014 was the lefty’s worst season as a professional up to that point. In March 2015, then-Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. suggested that Biddle’s concussion wasn’t a big deal and that he took time off for other reasons, saying, “That wasn’t the reason we gave him the break.”

After the 2015 season during which he posted a 4.95 ERA in 24 starts between Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley, Biddle underwent Tommy John surgery. The Phillies designated him for assignment in January 2016 and the Pirates decided to acquire him shortly thereafter. The Pirates DFA’d him in March and then traded him to the Braves. Biddle debuted with Double-A Mississippi in April 2017, but switched into a relief role. From April 7 to July 11, he posted a 2.90 ERA, but he went back on the disabled list and didn’t pitch the rest of the season.

Biddle only pitched 3 1/3 innings in spring training this year but he held the opposition scoreless on two hits with no walks and no strikeouts. To start the 2018 minor league season, he’s yielded zero runs on three hits with one walk and eight strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings, which helped him finally earn his call-up to the majors.

This is why Biddle’s promotion today is such a cool moment. He may be one of the most unlucky players in professional baseball but he may also be on a major league mound facing his former team tonight.

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.