Cubs, RHP Taillon reportedly agree to 4-year contract

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SAN DIEGO — The Chicago Cubs have added Jameson Taillon to their rotation, agreeing to a four-year contract with the right-hander that is worth roughly $68 million.

A person familiar with the negotiations confirmed the deal to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because it was pending a physical.

The Cubs haven’t formally announced the move, but President of Baseball Operations Jed Hoyer said the team has been looking at Taillon for a long time.

“I think he’s a really good starting pitcher,” Hoyer said at baseball’s winter meetings in San Diego. “He’s been really consistent. I think he’s continued to get better as he’s gotten healthier in his career. I think he’s showed the promise he had.”

The 31-year-old Taillon is coming off a solid season with the New York Yankees, going 14-5 with a 3.91 ERA. He matched his career high with 32 starts and worked 177 1/3 innings, his best total since he logged 191 innings in 2018.

The move puts Taillon back in the NL Central after he began his career with Pittsburgh. Taillon made his major league debut in 2016 and went 29-24 with a 3.67 ERA in 82 starts in his first four seasons with the Pirates.

Taillon missed the 2020 season after he had Tommy John surgery on his right elbow for a second time. He was traded to the Yankees in January 2021 for four prospects.

“Since he’s been healthy, beginning with the Yankees, I think he’s pitched really well,” Hoyer said. “Yeah, I think there’s still more in the tank. But obviously we’re excited to get him. He’s a guy we targeted at the beginning of the offseason.”

Taillon, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 amateur draft, moves into a rotation that also includes Marcus Stroman, who finalized a $71 million, three-year contract last December. Kyle Hendricks is hoping to return to form after he missed the last part of the season with shoulder trouble.

Chicago went 74-88 this year and finished third in the NL Central. But it went 40-31 in its last 71 games. The rotation had a 2.89 ERA after the All-Star break, third in the majors behind the Astros (2.70) and Dodgers (2.73).

The Cubs also got Cody Bellinger on Tuesday, agreeing to a $17.5 million, one-year contract with the 2019 NL MVP. Bellinger figures to play center field, but he also could get some work at first base.

The team could add another starting pitcher, and it is monitoring the shortstop market.

“Really glad with the two guys that we are able to potentially come to an agreement with while we’re here,” Hoyer said. “And obviously a lot of offseason left.”

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.