Astros prospect suspended 25 games for unauthorized possession of a syringe

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MLB announced that four minor leaguers have been suspended for violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, but one of the suspensions caught my eye.

Astros right-hander Euris Quezada, who’d been pitching at low Single-A, was suspended 25 games for what Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle reports as “unauthorized possession of a syringe.”

The other three minor leaguers–Luis Flores of the Cubs, Kennys Vargas of the Twins, and free agent Emanuel Ramirez–each received 50-game suspensions for testing positive for actual banned substances, but apparently players also have to get approval to possess and use a syringe too.

In fact, Quezada is the third minor leaguer this season to be suspended 25 games for syringe possesion, as free agent Robinson Fabian and Hector Taveras of the Royals also got the same ban back in April.

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.