Sticking with the same 25-man roster they used in both the NLDS and NLCS, the Giants will not be adding Barry Zito to the pitching staff for the World Series.
There was some speculation that Zito could be added to the World Series roster in place of reliever Guillermo Mota, who went unused in the first two rounds, but apparently manager Bruce Bochy thinks a superfluous right-handed middle reliever is more useful than the veteran left-hander who made $18.5 million this season as part of a seven-year, $126 million deal that runs through 2013.
And it’s tough to blame him.
Zito put together a strong first half, going 8-4 with a 3.51 ERA, but fell apart down the stretch with a 1-8 record and 6.80 ERA in his final 10 outings. He also hasn’t pitched since October 2 and Madison Bumgarner has clearly emerged as the Giants’ fourth starter, so aside from perhaps making Zito feel better about himself or making the $126 million seem like slightly less of a disaster there was no real reason to add him.
Robert Murray and MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported earlier, respectively, that the Phillies signed pitcher Francisco Liriano and infielder Neil Walker to minor league contracts. If he makes the major league roster, Liriano will earn a salary of $1.5 million with an additional $1.25 million available through performance incentives. Walker’s contract information is not yet known.
Liriano, 36, struggled from 2016-18 but enjoyed a productive year out of the bullpen for the Pirates this past season. He posted a 3.47 ERA with 63 strikeouts and 35 walks over 70 innings. The lefty was quite effective against same-handed batters, limiting fellow lefties to a .659 OPS. That would figure to be a key component if Liriano makes the Phillies’ Opening Day roster.
Walker, 34, hit .261/.344/.395 with eight home runs and 38 RBI over 381 plate appearances with the Marlins last year. The veteran is versastile, having played first, second, and third base along with both corner outfield spots in recent seasons. Despite Walker’s versatility, it is tough to see room on the Phillies’ roster for him, barring injuries to other players. It never hurts to have depth.