Angels trying to trade for a new closer?

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From Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe comes word that the Angels have “inquired” about A’s closer Grant Balfour, Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan and Mariners closer Brandon League, with Cafardo calling Balfour the “most logical” fit because Oakland’s asking price should be the lowest.

Jordan Walden earned Rookie of the Year votes in the American League last year after registering a 2.98 ERA and 32 saves across 60 1/3 innings. But the 24-year-old right-hander has surrendered five hits, four walks and five earned runs in just 4 1/3 frames this year, prompting Anaheim to turn to veteran left-hander Scott Downs for interim ninth-inning duties.

And now the 7-14 Angels might take it a step further by bringing in an option from the outside.

Balfour, 34, has posted a superb 1.38 ERA, 0.62 WHIP and 10/3 K/BB ratio in 13 innings this year as the A’s stopper. He’s earning a $4 million salary this season and carries a $4.5 million club option for 2013.

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.