Manny Machado bristles at trade rumors

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Manny Machado is, quite clearly, the most highly sought-after player as we approach the trade deadline. Baltimore is not going anywhere and they are not going to sign him long term, so the market is wide open. Several teams, including the Yankees, Dodgers and Brewers have been reported as having interest and it seems only a matter of time before he’s dealt.

The Yankees have been reported to be the most interested in recent days, with several reports flying about the O’s and the Bombers discussing a trade for Machado. The issue there, however, is that the Yankees have a fine shortstop in Didi Gregorius, so if they got Machado they’d likely want him to return to third base, where he played for most of his career.

Machado was asked about that, and the larger idea of being traded, after last night’s doubleheader against the Yankees. He bristled. From Ken Rosenthal:

“Talk to me about the game; talk to me about something useful. Not about rumors. … I don’t talk rumors. I play baseball. We got our ass kicked today. Won the first game, lost the second game. I talk baseball. I’ll talk baseball all you want . . . I’m a shortstop,” Machado said. “I play shortstop.”

That sounds much more like Machado simply not wanting to answer questions about being traded than some definitive stance about where he’ll play for the final two to three months of the season. Based on how hard he lobbied and worked to get the Orioles to move him back to his original position this past offseason, however, it’s likely the case that he truly does want to stick at short and not be moved. It’s worth noting too that he’ll be a free agent this offseason and he’ll have more value if teams see him as a shortstop rather than a third baseman. Finishing strong, on a playoff team, while playing shortstop will do him a lot better in that regard.

Obviously if the Yankees do trade for him and if they do move him to third, he’ll be asked about it again. I suspect if that happens he’ll have a far more nuanced and diplomatic answer.

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.