ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Left-hander Jeffrey Springs became the first of 33 players to exchange proposed arbitration salaries with their teams to reach a settlement, agreeing to a potential four-year deal with the Tampa Bay Rays worth $31 million on Wednesday of $65.75 million over five seasons.
Springs, 30, was among the seven Rays who traded arbiters with the team on Jan. 13. He started last season in the bullpen, switched to the starting rotation in May, and finished 9-5 with a 2.46 ERA in 33 appearances. including 25 launches. He is 14-6 with a 2.70 ERA in 76 games – 51 of them in relief – since being acquired from Boston in February 2021.
Ray’s president of baseball operations Erik Neander said the sides had worked for weeks to reach an agreement and that Springs — drafted in the 30th round by the Texas Rangers in 2015 — deserved the opportunity to be a big part of Tampa Bay’s future.
“Jeffrey’s journey in baseball is one of constant evolution and improvement. It’s a hell of a story,” Neander said, noting that Springs wasn’t drafted high and spent time with multiple organizations before ending up with the Rays and becoming an integral part of the team’s success.
“A big reason we’re here at this point is that we see him continue to do so,” Neander said. “He deserves to have this opportunity and we are delighted that we will be keeping him here longer than we otherwise would have.”
Springs, who is 19-10 with a 3.57 ERA over parts of five seasons with the Rangers, Red Sox and Rays, earns $4 million this year, $5.25 million in 2024 and 10.5 million dollars in each of the following two seasons. Tampa Bay has a $15 million option for 2027 with a $750,000 buyout.
Salaries for 2025 and 2026 each may increase by up to $3.75 million based on 2023-24 innings combined: $1.5 million for 300, $1 million for 325, $750,000 for 350 and $500,000 for 375. Salaries for 25 and 26 may also escalate based on Cy Young Award voting placement in 23 and 24: $2 million for win, 1 $.5 million for places two through five and $250,000 for places six through ten.
“To be honest, I don’t even know if it’s fully sunken yet,” Springs said. “Lots of emotions to be honest when I think about Erik’s journey and hear him talk about it. It 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 could escalate based on Cy Young’s voting in 2025 and 2026: by $2.5 million for win, $2 million for second-five and $500,000 for places six through ten.
Springs would receive $45.25 million if the option is exercised, $52.75 million with the option and meeting all innings targets and the maximum if he meets innings targets and two Cy Young Awards wins.
Springs’ ERA last season was the second-lowest in franchise history for a pitcher who pitched 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 on 22 of 25 starts and two runs or fewer on 17 times. He joined the Tampa Bay 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 begin next week and the Rays still have the most players to appear before three-person panels.
Springs asked for a raise from $947,500 to $3.55 million and was offered $2.7 million. Hearings are also scheduled in Tampa Bay 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 the big league’s spring practice.