Royals try something new: Alex Gordon hits first, Eric Hosmer third

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Having scored five runs while losing their last four games, the Royals opted for a lineup shakeup on Wednesday against the Rangers and right-hander Alexi Ogando:

1. Alex Gordon – LF
2. Melky Cabrera – CF
3. Eric Hosmer – 1B
4. Jeff Francoeur – RF
5. Billy Butler – DH
6. Wilson Betemit – 3B
7. Matt Treanor – C
8. Chris Getz – 2B
9. Alcides Escobar – SS

It seems worth a try, even though Gordon is slumping badly at the moment. Coincidence or not, he’s batting .191 in 68 at-bats since the Royals decided to shift him from left field to first base for a couple of games.

Primarily batting sixth, Hosmer is hitting .270/.349/.568 in 37 at-bats since his callup earlier this month.  He did bat third once before when Gordon was getting a night off, and he homered in that one to help the Royals beat the Yankees.

The questionable choice is to bat Francoeur in the cleanup spot against a righty.  He’s hitting .220 in his last 11 games and his OPS is 400 points higher against lefties this season.  Butler is struggling as well, but he has a .386 OBP against righties this year, compared to Francoeur’s .323 mark.  With only one major league hitter behind him, it’s hard to like his chances of scoring after a double or a walk.

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.