2018-19 Position-by-position Free Agent Preview

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The kickoff for the 2018-19 free agency extravaganza will most likely come some time this afternoon when Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers decide his future. He has until 4PM to exercise his opt-out clause and become a free agent. All signs at the moment, however, point to him remaining with Los Angeles. We’ll know soon enough.

This year’s free agent class is a whole heck of a lot more interesting than a maybe-free-agent Kershaw. Indeed, it’s a better free agent class than we’ve seen in several years.

Earlier this week we looked at the upcoming free agent signing period on a position-by-position basis with an eye on who’s available, who’s shopping and what might go down between tomorrow and, well, when everyone signs.

For those who missed it, here are those installments:

In addition to those overviews, you should go read Matthew Pouliot’s annual rundown of the top 111 free agents available for a truly detailed look at what’s out there. Bookmark that one, as it’ll be a handy dandy reference for you all winter long. “Wait, my team signed . . . Brad Bach? What am I supposed to think about that?” Well, that’s what that article is for.

And, as we have for the past nine offseasons, check in with us constantly this winter as we’ll be posting about, and talking about, free agent signings soon after they happen.

Happy Hot Stove Season, everyone.

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.