Meet the Players’ Union’s Chief Negotiator


Whenever I talk about MLBPA stuff someone will comment about how the union needs a labor lawyer, not some ex-player in charge.

I get why people say that — we tend to only think about the public-facing elements of organizations in which we are’t personally invested — but dudes, the union has labor lawyers. Lots of them. I’ve met a few of them. They’re pretty sharp guys. I can assure you that Major League Baseball also has lawyers not named Rob Manfred. They are also sharp guys. When the league and the union talk it’s all these sharp guys doing most of it, not Rob Manfred and Tony Clark.

The most important one of these guys is Bruce Meyer, the MLBPA’s recently-hired chief negotiator. He’s a litigator with decades of experience arguing with people who really don’t feel like giving his clients what they want but, somehow, doing a pretty good job of getting his clients what they want. Some of those clients were athletes too as, for several years he represented the NHL Player’s Union under former MLBPA Executive Director Don Fehr. So, yeah, he knows what he’s doing. Whether that translates to a great Collective Bargaining Agreement for the players in 2021 is to be determined, but no, the players are not relying on just Tony Clark’s negotiating skills to get them that.

Today Tim Brown of Yahoo has a profile of Meyer. His is a name you’ll be reading a lot of on this site as we get closer and closer to the end of the current CBA, so if you care about that stuff, you should probably get to know him.

RHP Fairbanks, Rays agree to 3-year, $12 million contract

tampa bay rays
Dave Nelson/USA TODAY Sports

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.