MLB

Jeffrey Springs, Rays agree to $31 million, 4-year contract

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Left-hander Jeffrey Springs became the first of 33 players to trade proposed arbitration salaries with their teams to reach an agreement, agreeing to a $31 million, four-year contract with the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday that could be worth 65 .75 million dollars over five seasons.

The 30-year-old Springs was among seven Rays who traded arbitration figures with the team on Jan. 13. He began last season in the bullpen, moved into the starting rotation in May and finished 9-5 with a 2.46 ERA in 33 appearances. , including 25 starts. He is 14-6 with a 2.70 ERA in 76 outings — 51 of them in relief — since being acquired from Boston in February 2021.

Rays president of baseball operations Erik Neander said the sides had been working toward a deal for several weeks and that Springs — drafted in the 30th round by the Texas Rangers in 2015 — has earned the opportunity to be a big part of Tampa Bay’s future.

“Jeffrey’s journey in baseball is a story of constant development and improvement. It’s a heck of a story,” Neander said, noting Springs wasn’t drafted highly and spent time with multiple organizations before landing with the Rays and becoming a key component to the team’s success.

“A big reason we’re here at this point is we see him continue to do that going forward,” Neander said. “To get the opportunity he’s deserved and we’re really happy that we’re going to keep him here longer than we would have otherwise.”

Springs, who is 19-10 with a 3.57 ERA over parts of five seasons with the Rangers, Red Sox and Rays, will get $4 million this year, $5.25 million in 2024 and $10.5 million in each of the following two seasons . Tampa Bay has a $15 million option for 2027 with a $750,000 buyout.

The 2025 and 2026 salaries could escalate by up to $3.75 million each based on innings in 2023-24 combined: $1.5 million for 300, $1 million for 325, $750,000 for 350 and $500,000 for 375 and ’62 salaries. based on finish in Cy Young Award voting in ’23 and ’24: $2 million to win, $1.5 million to finish second through fifth and $250,000 to finish sixth through 10th.

“Honestly, I don’t even know if it’s fully sunk in yet,” Springs said. “Tons of emotions, to be honest, thinking about and hearing Erik talk about the journey. It’s something that kind of helped shape me into the person and player I am today, and I wouldn’t change that for anything.”

Tampa Bay’s option price can escalate based on Cy Young voting in 2025 and 2026: by $2.5 million to win, $2 million to finish second through fifth and $500,000 for sixth through tenth.

Springs would get $45.25 million if the option is exercised, $52.75 million with the option and meeting all innings goals, and the maximum if he meets the innings goals and wins two Cy Young Awards.

Springs’ ERA last season was the second-lowest in franchise history for a pitcher who worked at least 100 innings. Former Rays ace Blake Snell compiled a 1.89 ERA en route to winning the 2018 AL Cy Young Award.

In addition to finishing sixth in the AL in ERA, Springs allowed three runs or fewer in 22 of 25 starts and two runs or fewer 17 times. He joined Tampa Bay’s rotation on May 9 and gradually increased his workload over his next six appearances. Springs was 6-3 with a 2.40 ERA in 14 starts after the All-Star break.

Arbitration hearings start next week, and the Rays still have the most players scheduled to appear on three-person panels.

Springs had asked for an increase from $947,500 to $3.55 million and had been offered $2.7 million. Tampa Bay remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam, Pete Fairbanks and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, third baseman Yandy Díaz and outfielder Harold Ramírez.

Tampa Bay also agreed to minor league contacts with catcher Gavin Collins and right-hander Jaime Schultz, who will report to major league spring training.

Infielder Austin Shenton and pitchers Anthony Molina and Joe LaSorsa were also invited to major league spring training.

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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