Pirates closer Jason Grilli is off the disabled list after missing the past month with a strained oblique muscle.
Grilli saved 33 games last season and another four games this year before going on the disabled list, but it’s possible the Pirates will ease him back into the bullpen mix in a low-leverage role because of how well Mark Melancon has fared filling in at closer.
Melancon has eight saves with a 2.05 ERA and 15/5 K/BB ratio in 22 innings this season after making the All-Star team last year on the way to posting a 1.39 ERA in 71 innings.
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.