St. Louis’ playoff roster for the NLDS will not include A.J. Pierzynski, who filled in at catcher while Yadier Molina was hurt, or Jason Motte, who was the team’s standout closer before blowing out his elbow.
Molina is back and will start every playoff game, so the Cardinals preferred Tony Cruz as his backup after Pierzynski hit just .244 with one homer and a .600 OPS in 30 games.
Motte saved a league-high 42 games for the Cardinals in 2012, but then he missed all of 2013 and struggled this year with a 4.68 ERA and seven homers allowed in 25 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.