Marlins decide to play via group text

Associated Press
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The Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting that the decision to play yesterday’s Marlins-Phillies game was made not by the team’s leadership, not by Major League Baseball, and not by any public health or medical experts. It was made by the players.

Over group text:

Major League Baseball issued a 113-page operations manual to all club employees before the start of the season. It outlines everything from on-field rules to testing procedures and what happens if a player tests positive. But Sunday afternoon, the status of the game amid a coronavirus outbreak was decided by a group text-message between Marlins players.

According to the story the final call was mostly made by shortstop Miguel Rojas, who is the team’s clubhouse leader. Rojas told the Inquirer, “we made the decision that we’re going to continue to do this and we’re going to continue to be responsible and just play the game as hard as we can.”

That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works. Or at least it’s not how it should work.

As the Inquirer story notes, Major League Baseball’s painfully detailed COVID-19 protocols are supposed to dictate everything. But they did not, apparently, dictate any sort of isolating despite the fact the team was in close quarters for several days leading up to the multiple positive tests that emerged yesterday morning. And the decision to play was made not by any health experts or anyone in any sort of formal leadership position, but by players whose driving philosophy in all of this was “we play hard.” Which is exactly the sort of impulse that having clear, organized, medical and science-driven processes is supposed to push back against. Athletes will ALWAYS want to play hard if they’re able to and allowed to. During a pandemic that Major League Baseball purports to take seriously, structures should be in place that head off that emotional impulse in favor of a rational one.

Either Major League Baseball’s health and safety protocols have no data-driven mechanisms via which games are postponed and no formal hierarchy that makes such determinations, or else it has them but they were allowed to be ignored in this instance. It has to be one or the other because “Miguel Rojas decides via group text” is probably not in the manual.

Which is it? Did the league fail to plan for this eventuality or did it ignore its plans?

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

tampa bay rays
Dave Nelson/USA TODAY Sports
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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.