Nelson Cruz out three weeks with Grade 1 hamstring strain

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UPDATE: Cruz will be placed on the disabled list and is expected to miss three weeks after being diagnosed with a Grade 1 hamstring strain, which won’t do anything to squash the Rangers’ rumored interest in Lance Berkman.

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Nelson Cruz exited yesterday’s game after straining his left hamstring running out a double, which is especially worrisome for the Rangers given that he spent three different stints on the disabled list with hamstring problems last season.

It looked serious as Cruz limped off the field and he’s scheduled for an MRI exam today, but the outfielder told Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas that he’s hopeful the injury will prove minor and he can avoid the DL:

Last year, it would still feel pretty bad even with the treatment. That’s not how it felt tonight. It felt more normal. Hopefully, it’s not bad and I’m back soon.

With rosters expanding Thursday anyway there’s less need to place Cruz on the DL, but Durrett speculates that it might cause the Rangers to pursue another outfielder via the waiver wire. Cruz has been much healthier this season and has already played more games than he did all of last year, but his OPS has dropped nearly 100 points and he’s been much less active on the bases.

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.