Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer take next steps toward rejoining Mets

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NEW YORK — Mets aces Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer took their next steps toward returning to New York’s rotation.

DeGrom, sidelined since last July 7, threw 27 pitches to hitters in Port St. Lucie, Florida, and could progress to a minor league injury rehabilitation assignment.

“We’ll see how he feels tomorrow,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said after watching on video from Citi Field. “Tomorrow, if he feels well, we’ll probably be able to talk about that next step.”

A two-time Cy Young Award winner, the 34-year-old right-hander missed the second half of last season because of right forearm tightness. He returned and made spring training starts on March 22 and 27, then was sidelined by a stress reaction in his right scapula that caused inflammation. He did not throw another bullpen session until June 4.

“He hasn’t had anything that has taken him off schedule so far,” Showalter said. “You can tell he’s upbeat about where he is. The body language, more than anything.”

Scherzer, a three-time Cy Young Award winner, has been sidelined since straining his left oblique muscle while pitching against St. Louis on May 18. He was to make his second rehab start for the Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies on Wednesday night, taking the mound against the Hartford Yard Goats.

“I was going to send him a ‘good luck with the Yard Goats,’ but I don’t think he’d take it well,” Showalter said. “I think I will, anyway.”

Scherzer threw 65 pitches last Tuesday for Binghamton against Reading, allowing two runs and three hits in 3 1/3 innings with six strikeouts and a walk.

After agreeing to a $130 million, three-year contract, baseball’s highest average salary, Scherzer is 6-2 with a 2.54 ERA in eight starts.

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.