Dave Martinez and Gabe Kapler among potential candidates for Rays manager

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After Joe Maddon stepped down as manager of the Rays yesterday, there was plenty of speculation about what his next move could be, but we didn’t hear much about who could replace him in Tampa Bay. Look for that to change soon.

Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Tribune has an early list of potential candidates, including Rays bench coach Dave Martinez, former Rays player Gabe Kapler, White Sox third base coach Joe McEwing, former Rangers bench coach and interim manager Tim Bogar, and Triple-A Durham manager Charlie Montoyo.

Martinez probably deserves to be the odds-on favorite here. He has been the Rays bench coach for the past seven seasons, so it would be a natural progression. He has also interviewed for several managerial openings around the majors in recent years. Montoyo, who has managed at Triple-A for the past eight years, is another logical in-house choice. Kapler doesn’t have any coaching experience in the majors, but he has worked as a part-time consultant for the Rays in the past and even briefly managed the Class A team for the Red Sox in 2007 before resuming his playing career. It would be a bold hire, but Kapler is extremely sharp and analytical, as evidenced by his insight on Twitter and Fox’s baseball coverage. It will be interesting to see if the Rays play it safe or outside the box.

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.