Juan Miranda, not Russell Branyan, to “get most of the starts” at first base in Arizona

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One of Kevin Towers’ first moves as Diamondbacks general manager was to trade for Juan Miranda, who’d been stuck behind Mark Teixeira in the Yankees’ farm system despite consistently solid production at Triple-A.

I liked the pickup at the time, seeing Miranda as a potentially useful platoon first baseman capable of putting up some nice numbers against right-handed pitching while earning the MLB minimum.

However, once the Diamondbacks brought in Russell Branyan as a free agent it became less clear that Miranda should get an extended shot at first base, because Branyan has a lengthy track record of being a very nice platoon option against righties himself.

Kirk Gibson initially avoided talking about how the playing time would work out, but admitted today that Miranda “will probably get most of the starts, the majority of them right now” because “I want to give him a chance to see how he can play.”

It makes lots of sense to platoon one of Miranda or Branyan with the right-handed-hitting Xavier Nady, so it’ll be interesting to see if the 28-year-old Miranda can hold off the 35-year-old Branyan all season. So far one has seven plate appearances and the other has six.

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.