Cubs C Willson Contreras day to day with hamstring injury

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
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CHICAGO — Chicago Cubs manager David Ross praised catcher Willson Contreras on Sunday for speaking up after he felt some tightness in his right hamstring.

Contreras left Saturday’s 7-6 loss to Arizona after he got hurt running the bases in the third inning. Contreras was out of the lineup for the series finale against the Diamondbacks, but he is considered day to day and Ross said it could have been worse.

“I thought that was smart of him yesterday, with some of the lower stuff he’s had,” Ross said. “I mean that’s a veteran move. Like, hey, something doesn’t feel right, let us know. Probably saved us there.”

The 30-year-old Contreras, who is eligible for free agency after this season, is batting .258 with five homers and 14 RBIs in 34 games.

With Contreras’ injury, the Cubs brought up catcher P.J. Higgins from Triple-A Iowa and designated infielder Ildemaro Vargas for assignment. Higgins was in the starting lineup for Sunday’s game against Arizona.

Higgins, 29, made his major league debut last year, going 1 for 23 over nine games with Chicago. He is hitting .417 with a homer and 17 RBIs in 22 games for Iowa this season.

Higgins’ 2021 season was cut short by a right forearm strain.

“It’s been a crazy 12 months,” Higgins said. “Honestly, after getting hurt last year and being injured, I’ve just been happy being able to play baseball. That was my first true injury where it sidelined me for six months basically.”

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

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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.