Free agency not to their liking, Indians looking to trade for bat

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7:13 p.m. EST update: Danny Knobler of CBS Sports reports that the Astros tried to interest the Indians in Carlos Lee, but that even covering half of his $18 million salary wasn’t enough to tempt Cleveland. Lee does offer a solid right-handed bat, but he’d have to come in at significantly less than $9 million to be attractive. Willingham isn’t likely to get any more than that annually, and Derrek Lee could probably be had for $7 million-$8 million.

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With the price tags for Michael Cuddyer and Josh Willingham proving high, the Indians are looking to trade for a right-handed hitter to help at first base and/or in the outfield, FOXSports.com’s Jon Paul Morosi reports.

Morosi states that the Indians would be willing to tap into their relief depth to facilitate a deal. Closer Chris Perez seems likely to stay, but righties Vinnie Pestano and Joe Smith and lefties Tony Sipp and Rafael Perez could potentially be had, though Pestano wouldn’t come cheap.

Florida’s Gaby Sanchez would be an obvious target for Cleveland if the Marlins can sign Albert Pujols. Sanchez hit .266/.352/.427 with 19 homers and 78 RBI in 572 at-bats last season, and since he’s not even arbitration eligible yet, his addition would still leave the Indians with money to play with. The problem there is that the Marlins are content with their pen and will likely seek a young starter in return for Sanchez.

San Diego’s Kyle Blanks is another who would make sense, and the Padres are looking for relief help. Blanks, 25, hit .229/.300/.406 9n 170 at-bats for the Padres after returning from Tommy John surgery last season. He’s miscast as an outfielder, but he’d offer plenty of power potential at first base. Despite playing half his games in Petco, he’s hit 20 homers in 420 at-bats as a major leaguer.

Phillies sign Francisco Liriano and Neil Walker to minor league deals

Francisco Liriano
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Robert Murray and MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported earlier, respectively, that the Phillies signed pitcher Francisco Liriano and infielder Neil Walker to minor league contracts. If he makes the major league roster, Liriano will earn a salary of $1.5 million with an additional $1.25 million available through performance incentives. Walker’s contract information is not yet known.

Liriano, 36, struggled from 2016-18 but enjoyed a productive year out of the bullpen for the Pirates this past season. He posted a 3.47 ERA with 63 strikeouts and 35 walks over 70 innings. The lefty was quite effective against same-handed batters, limiting fellow lefties to a .659 OPS. That would figure to be a key component if Liriano makes the Phillies’ Opening Day roster.

Walker, 34, hit .261/.344/.395 with eight home runs and 38 RBI over 381 plate appearances with the Marlins last year. The veteran is versastile, having played first, second, and third base along with both corner outfield spots in recent seasons. Despite Walker’s versatility, it is tough to see room on the Phillies’ roster for him, barring injuries to other players. It never hurts to have depth.