Jose Tabata “worked out in the gym every day this winter”

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It looks like we can add Pirates outfielder Jose Tabata to the ever-growing pool of players “in the best shape of their life.”

Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review writes that Tabata “has bulked up noticeably” during the offseason “and it’s muscle, not fat.”

One teammate called Tabata “a beast” after getting a look at him during a recent workout, to which Tabata responded: “Yeah, I’m bigger. I worked out in the gym every day this winter. I want to be bigger and stronger. This year, my idea is to hit more home runs.”

Adding more power is certainly a good idea for Tabata, who went deep just four times in 441 plate appearances as a rookie after homering a total of 29 times in 2,088 plate appearances as a minor leaguer. In fact, lack of power development is perhaps the main reason why his prospect stock dipped in recent years.

Of course, there’s also danger in a young player losing athleticism or altering his hitting mechanics, and the 22-year-old seems aware of those risks: “It’s a good feeling, but I have to be careful not to let it change my swing. Sometimes, when you want to hit home runs, your swing gets real long. I can’t let that happen.”

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.