A grand jury has convened to examine the death of Tyler Skaggs

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It has been months since we heard anything new about law enforcement’s investigation into the death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs. Last we heard, in October, federal agents were in the process of interviewing current and former Angels players who may have information about Skaggs’ drug use and death and that simultaneous investigations into Skaggs’ death were being undertaken by United States Attorneys in both Texas and California.

A lot of that all seemed to get lost in a news-heavy offseason, but last night the Los Angeles Times reported that things have progressed:

A Texas grand jury has been hearing evidence that could form the basis for criminal charges related to the death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, two people familiar with the matter told the Los Angeles Times.

That’s a pretty big step forward. Not all grand jury investigations lead to indictments, but prosecutors tend not to convene them unless they at least believe they have a good shot at an indictment.

At the moment it’s not known who or what, specifically, is being looked at, but Texas is where Skaggs died, obviously, so one might assume that it involves who supplied the drugs to Skaggs that killed him. It has been revealed that Skaggs was a user of Oxycontin, but his autopsy revealed Fentanyl as well, leading some to suspect that he had been given adulterated drugs. Eric Kay, the Angels’ director of communications at the time of Skaggs’ death, told agents he illegally obtained oxycodone and have some to Skaggs several days before the team left California for Texas, but it is unclear if Skaggs took those drugs at the time or held on to them before the Angels left on the road trip. The Times reports that Kay is cooperating with authorities.

There will, no doubt, be more to come on this.

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.