A’s claim Edwin Encarnacion off waivers from Blue Jays

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Oakland continues to be the busiest team of the early offseason, as the A’s claimed 27-year-old third baseman Edwin Encarnacion off waivers from the Blue Jays.

Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos indicated last month that Encarnacion was a candidate to be non-tendered after hitting .244/.305/.482 in 367 plate appearances while missing nearly half the season with a wrist injury.

Toronto decided to clear him off the 40-man roster ahead of time and Oakland snatched him up, although Encarnacion may still end up being a non-tender candidate because the $6 million or so he’d likely command via arbitration is pretty steep for a poor defensive third baseman with a .790 career OPS.

However, general manager Billy Beane has made it clear that the A’s are looking for some right-handed power and for all hits faults Encarnacion certainly fits that bill. He isn’t much with the glove and has a .258 batting average in six seasons, but he’s also smacked 25 homers per 550 at-bats and went deep 21 times in just 332 at-bats this season.

Phillies sign Francisco Liriano and Neil Walker to minor league deals

Francisco Liriano
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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.