We see a lot of interesting reports at this time of the year, but this one made me chuckle a little bit:
What a concept. It’s easier said than done, of course, especially with the lack of options available on the free agent market. Most of the big bats have already signed — the latest being Nelson Cruz today — which leaves an underwhelming field highlighted by the likes of Chase Headley, Melky Cabrera, Alex Rios, Nick Markakis, Colby Rasmus, Jed Lowrie, Torii Hunter, and Asdrubal Cabrera. It’s not like we’d expect the Padres to spend big money anyway, so the trade market is likely where they’ll turn. The Braves are reportedly dangling Justin Upton and Evan Gattis while the Red Sox appear willing to deal Yoenis Cespedes, so there are options out there.
The Padres were fourth in the majors with a 3.27 ERA this past season, so it’s not hard to imagine them as a sleeper team if they get an infusion of offense. But new general manager A.J. Preller really has his work cut out for him here. The Padres were last in the majors in nearly every major offensive category in 2014. It’s hard to move the needle significantly in one offseason.
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.