Manfred prefers Tampa to St. Pete for Rays but many factors

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LOS ANGELES — Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred’s preferred location for a new Rays ballpark would be on the Tampa side of the bay rather than in St. Petersburg but he says the site alone won’t be a determining factor.

Tampa Bay’s lease at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, where the team has played since its inaugural season in 1998, expires after the 2027 season. The Rays said in January that Major League Baseball had rejected the team’s plan to split its season between Florida and Montreal.

Manfred said he had not spoken in recent weeks with Rays owner Stuart Sternberg for an update.

“I have always thought that a stadium on the other side of the causeway would be preferable in some respects,” Manfred told the Baseball Writers’ Association of America on Tuesday before the All-Star Game. “But there’s a variety of factors that have to be taken into account in terms of determining whether you’re going to be in St. Pete or in Tampa: What financing is available? What sites are available? How quickly you can get in the ground? It’s not just the location.”

Tampa Bay has drawn 676,296 at home this season and its 13,802 average is 28th among the 30 teams, ahead of only Miami (11,591) and Oakland (8,637).

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.