Mets ace deGrom whiffs 5 of 6 batters in 1st rehab start

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK – Back in a game at last, Jacob deGrom was sharp.

The New York Mets ace struck out five of the six batters he faced and threw 18 of 24 pitches for strikes Sunday night in his first minor league rehabilitation start for Class A St. Lucie.

The only hiccup for deGrom against the Jupiter Hammerheads in Port St. Lucie, Florida, came when he hit a batter with a pitch.

As deGrom warmed up in the bullpen before the game, more than a dozen of the young St. Lucie players gathered behind him to watch his regimen.

It was 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 two-time Cy Young Award winner also missed the second half of last season with right forearm tightness and a sprained elbow – he hasn’t pitched in the majors since July 7, 2021.

As he builds up arm strength and stamina, the 34-year-old right-hander will need several minor league rehab outings before he’s ready to rejoin New York’s rotation.

General manager Billy 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 won’t be back in the big leagues until at least late July, after the All-Star break.

Fellow ace Max Scherzer (5-1, 2.54 ERA) is scheduled to return from a strained left oblique muscle and start for the Mets on 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.

New York leads the NL East by 3 1/2 games over defending World Series champion Atlanta.

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.