MLBPA head Tony Clark urges resolution to Mookie Betts trade situation

Tony Clark
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The Major League Baseball Players Association issued a statement from Executive Director Tony Clark in which the head of the players’ union called for the teams involved in the complicated Mookie Betts to, basically, get on with it already. The statement reads as follows:

“The proposed trades between the Dodgers, Red Sox Twins and Angels need to be resolved without further delay. The events of this last week have unfairly put several Players’ lives in a state of limbo. The unethical leaking of medial information as well as the perversion of the salary arbitration process serve as continued reminders that too often Players are treated as commodities by those running the game.”

Go off, Tony.

There’s a few things Clark is referencing here. The main one is that the Betts trade (and subsequent Joc Pederson/Ross StriplingLuis Rengifo trade) is reportedly being held up by the fact that the Red Sox have concerns about the medicals of for-now Twins prospect Brusdar Graterol, who would go to the Dodgers in exchange for Kenta Maeda before being flipped to Boston as part of the package for Betts and David Price. Still with us here?

Graterol is a well-regarded prospect who debuted in 2019 and pitched in relief for Minnesota. He’s a starter by trade, but many believe that the combination of his stuff and his injury history point to a full-time career in the bullpen. The Red Sox apparently didn’t agree until they looked at the Twins’ internal medical records, which is standard procedure when making a trade. Boston apparently now wants more compensation for Betts and Price than just Graterol and Dodgers outfielder Alex Verdugo, since they no longer value Graterol quite as highly.

The other wrinkle here is that the trade that would send Pederson and Stripling to Anaheim is conditional upon the Betts trade being completed. Pederson actually just had a salary arbitration hearing while all of this was hanging over his head. The Dodgers won, meaning he’ll make $7.75M instead of $9.5. Jon Heyman reports that Angels owner Arte Moreno is quite unhappy about all of these delays. I’m sure he’s not the only one.

Obviously I don’t have a crystal ball or privileged access to the Twins’ medical records, but Graterol projecting as a reliever wasn’t exactly a big secret in the industry, and a fair amount of the independent prospect evaluation community is on the record as feeling that way. Maybe there’s something in those records that sets off some alarm bells for Chaim Bloom and company, but we’re getting to the stage where this is getting even sillier than the basic concept of willingly trading Mookie Betts to save some cash.

Clark is absolutely in the right to issue a statement as strongly worded as this one, and one can only hope that this will all get sorted out sooner rather than later. The whole bit about players being treated as commodities and not as people, though? That’s unfortunately not going away any time soon. There’s a school of thought that says that baseball is a business and these guys knew what they were signing up for, but that’s crap. These players are going to have to uproot their families and lives, and the least the Red Sox can do is bring this to a speedy resolution.

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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.