Report: The Astros are interested in Chase Utley, too

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CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that the Astros are the latest team to have shown interest in Phillies second baseman Chase Utley. They’re the sixth team with reported interest in the veteran, joining the Cubs, Angels, Giants, Yankees, and Dodgers. With All-Star Jose Altuve at second base, Utley would likely split time at first base and DH if he were to become an Astro.

Entering Friday night’s action, Utley was hitting .412 (7-for-17) with three doubles since returning from the disabled list on August 7. As of this writing, he is 3-for-4 with a double and two singles against the Brewers. He had been out since June 23 due to a right ankle injury. Upon hitting the disabled list, Utley carried a poor .179/.257/.275 batting line. During his DL stint, he said he found a flaw in his swing caused by the ankle injury, which he corrected.

Utley, 36, is owed the remainder of his $10 million salary for the 2015 season. He has an option for the 2016 season that is all but assured not to vest, so the odds are on him becoming a free agent after the season. Utley is reportedly seeking an assurance of playing time to waive his no-trade clause per his 10-and-5 rights.

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.