A’s in “serious talks” with free agent Billy Butler

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As first first reported by Cover Those Bases and then confirmed by FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the A’s are in “serious talks” with free agent Billy Butler. Word is the two sides are “close” to an agreement.

There was a report last week that Butler had a three-year, $30 million offer on the table, and MLB.com’s Phil Rogers wrote that it was “widely believed” to be from the Orioles. But it appears as though the 28-year-old designated hitter is headed to Oakland.

Butler batted just .271/.323/.379 with nine home runs and 66 RBI in 151 games this past season for the Royals and Kansas City’s front office then declined a $12.5 million club option on him in early November. But he has been a very productive hitter in the past, managing a stellar .306/.371/.483 slash line between 2009-2012.

The Athletics badly need a jolt of offense for 2015 and Butler is a decent bounceback candidate.

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.