Mets ace deGrom to make 1st injury rehab start Sunday

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NEW YORK — Mets ace Jacob deGrom is finally ready to begin a minor league rehab assignment.

Sidelined by injuries since last July, the two-time Cy Young Award winner is scheduled to start Sunday night for Class A St. Lucie against the Jupiter Hammerheads. He’s expected to throw about 25 pitches and two innings.

It will be the first competitive outing since spring training for deGrom, sidelined all season because of a stress reaction in his right scapula that caused inflammation.

The announcement Saturday by NL East-leading New York came nearly a year since deGrom’s last major league outing on July 7, 2021. He missed the second half of last season with right forearm tightness and a sprained elbow, then returned in spring training this year and made Grapefruit League starts on March 22 and 27.

But then he was sidelined by the stress reaction and didn’t throw another bullpen until June 4. The 34-year-old right-hander has been facing hitters at the team’s complex in Florida and the Mets said he felt good after throwing 27 pitches to batters on Wednesday.

As he builds up arm strength and stamina, deGrom will need several minor league rehab outings before he’s ready to rejoin New York’s rotation.

“Excited that he’ll be back, when that time comes. But just going to let the player kind of drive the pace and the cadence,” Mets general manager Billy Eppler said.

Eppler likened the process to a typical spring training progression, and manager Buck Showalter said deGrom won’t return until he’s stretched out enough that he could pitch five innings or more.

So the likelihood is deGrom still won’t be back in the big leagues until at least late July, after the All-Star break.

“If you follow the schedule, he’s hit every benchmark and we’re happy with that and we’ll see how he does on Sunday,” Showalter said. “We’ll see if there’s any adjustments to the schedule we have that need to be made. We know where it takes us, but we’ll go outing to outing and see how he feels the next day and obviously talk to Jake.”

Fellow ace Max Scherzer (5-1, 2.54 ERA) is scheduled to return from a strained left oblique muscle Tuesday night at Cincinnati. Scherzer, a three-time Cy Young Award winner, got hurt May 18 against St. Louis and recently made two rehab starts for Double-A Binghamton.

Rays’ Díaz gets $24 million, three-year deal, avoids arbitration

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Tampa Bay Rays infielder Yandy Díaz agreed to a $24 million, three-year contract on Tuesday that avoided a salary arbitration hearing.

Díaz’s agreement could be worth $36 million over four seasons.

The 31-year old will receive $6 million this season, $8 million in 2024 and $10 million for 2025. The 2026 club is $12 million with no buyout. There is a $1 million assignment bonus that would be payable by receiving team.

Díaz has spent parts of six seasons in the majors with Cleveland (2017-18) and Tampa Bay (2019-22). He has a career average of .278 with 39 home runs and 198 RBIs.

Acquired by the Rays in a three-team trade on Dec. 13, 2018, Díaz hit .296 with nine homers and 57 RBIs in 137 games last season, He career highs with 71 runs, 140 hits, 33 doubles, and 78 walks.

Díaz was the third Rays’ arbitration-eligible player to reach a deal.

Reliever Pete Fairbanks agreed Friday to a $12 million, three-year contract that could be worth up to $24.6 million over four seasons. The 29-year-old right-hander 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.

Left-hander Jeffrey Springs also agreed last week to a $31 million, four-year contract that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

The 30-year-old began last season in the bullpen and transitioned to the starting rotation in May and finished 9-5 with a 2.46 ERA in 33 appearances, including 25 starts.

Tampa Bay remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, and outfielder Harold Ramírez.