Rays Send Nick Solak To Rangers In Exchange For Peter Fairbanks
For the second time in the span of a few weeks, the Rays traded away a middle infielder from their surplus, this time sending Triple-A second baseman Nick Solak to the Rangers in return for Triple-A righthanded reliever Peter Fairbanks.
Nick Solak, 2B/OF
Solak is a bat-first second baseman whose average power and potentially plus hit tool may make up for his defensive limitations. The Rays value defensive versatility, so they tried Solak in left field after acquiring him from the Yankees, but so far he has not looked comfortable in the outfield, and his stints there tailed off as this year wore on. At second base, he’s a fringe-average defender at best, but positioning may make that a little less of an issue than it would have been a decade ago.
For the Rangers, Solak gives the team a backup plan in case Rougned Odor never regains his early MLB career form at the plate. Odor is signed through 2022, but the 25-year-old has been one of the worst second baseman in the league offensively in two of the past three seasons. Unless Solak improves in the outfield, he doesn’t have much of a fit if he’s not playing everyday because he isn’t really a utiltyman—shortstop is not an option and third base is a stretch. Solak will either need to be added to the 40-man roster in the offseason or he will be available in the Rule 5 draft.
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Peter Fairbanks, RHP
When the 2019 season began, Fairbanks was just getting on the mound for high Class A Down East after missing all of 2018 with the second Tommy John surgery, having never pitched above Class A. By the end of June, he was pitching in the major leagues, having climbed through four levels in the span of 60 days. The Sunday starter for Missouri as a junior, the Rangers moved Fairbanks to the bullpen in 2017 not long before he blew out his elbow. He used to be somewhat long in his arm circle in his takeaway, but now he is extremely short in the back, barely cocking his arm after pulling the ball from his glove. That, a move to the bullpen and increased strength have helped him find an extra 4-6 mph from what he threw in college.
Fairbanks regularly sits 96-98 mph while mixing in a hard, 88-90 mph slider that sometimes morphs into more of a cutter. He has two pitches that should work in a major league bullpen, giving him a solid shot to eventually pitch in the seventh and eighth innings. But he does have two significant arm injuries already on his resume, and he’s yet to prove he can handle the more regular work expected of a MLB reliever—he’s generally pitched on two to four days of rest this year. This season he is yet to throw on back-to-back days, and he’s only once thrown on one day's rest.