Francona “aggravated” by Buck Showalter’s comments

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Orioles manager Buck Showalter made a couple of controversial comments in a recent issue of Men’s Journal about some of his opponents in the American League East. He said Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter “ticks” him off and that he’d “like to see how smart” Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein “is with the Tampa Bay payroll.”

Epstein was asked about the remarks last week and played it safe, telling reporters that he hadn’t seen the article and didn’t care to comment. Red Sox skipper Terry Francona took a different route.

The eccentric skipper spoke Sunday with Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe:

“I got asked that the other day and I hadn’t seen it. I got it third-hand and I kind of joked about it a little bit. Then I read it and actually I was kind of aggravated a little bit,” Francona said. “I don’t think that’s anybody’s place. That’s my boss. I was actually kind of aggravated a little bit. It’s not the end of the world, but I thought he shouldn’t have done it.”

“I just thought that was a little bit out of line. I don’t think he’d be appreciating if I said something about Andy [MacPhail, Baltimore’s president of baseball operations], which I wouldn’t. It’s none of my business. And for the record, I think Andy’s really good.”

The Showalter-led Orioles went 3-3 against Boston at the end of last season. Given Baltimore’s mediocre roster and the additions that the Red Sox made this winter, our guess is that .500 record won’t last too long.

Phillies, RHP Taijuan Walker reportedly agree to 4-year deal

Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports
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SAN DIEGO – The active Philadelphia Phillies added Taijuan Walker to their rotation on Tuesday, agreeing to a $72 million, four-year contract with the right-hander.

A person familiar with the negotiations confirmed the move to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because it was pending a physical.

It was the second major free-agent score for the Phillies at the winter meetings after they reeled in shortstop Trea Turner on Monday with a $300 million, 11-year deal. Walker and Turner join a Phillies team that made it to the World Series this year before losing to the Houston Astros.

The 30-year-old Walker went 12-5 with a 3.49 ERA in 29 starts this season for the New York Mets, one of Philadelphia’s biggest NL East rivals. He slots into a rotation fronted by Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola.

The Phillies recently lost pitcher Zach Eflin in free agency to Tampa Bay.

Asked about the market for Walker earlier in the day, agent Scott Boras said it was robust.

“As you can see in the marketplace, there’s a whole number of pitchers that are throwing 60 and 70 innings that have been pursued, probably with the exception of (Jacob) deGrom, at the lower end of threshold around $13-15 million a year because the demand for quality pitching is so great,” Boras said.

“So, Tai … is one of the younger ones, one of the more durable ones and we expect him to be pursued greatly as his market unfolds.”

Walker was selected by Seattle with the No. 43 pick in the 2010 amateur draft. He made his big league debut with the Mariners in 2013.

Walker signed with New York as a free agent in February 2021. He turned down a $7.5 million player option last month in favor of a $3 million buyout, making his deal worth $17 million over two seasons.

The 6-foot-4 Walker made the All-Star team for the first time in 2021, putting together a fast start before fading to a 7-11 record with a 4.47 ERA in 30 games, 29 starts.