The Astros and ace Dallas Keuchel have tabled extension talks until the off-season, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports. He notes that the Astros would like to sign him to at least a four-year deal, which would cover at least one of his free agency years.
Keuchel, 27, will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the season, and won’t be eligible for free agency until after the 2018 season. He’s due a hefty raise over his 2015 salary of $524,500, as he currently leads the American League with 16 wins and a 2.24 ERA, along with a 173/42 K/BB ratio over 192 2/3 innings. The lefty finished with a 2.93 ERA last season as well.
The Astros enter play Friday with a 73-61 record, leading the AL West by two games over the Rangers. They stand a good chance at ending their post-season drought, which extends back to 2005, so it may not be until late October or November that the two sides will discuss a new contract.
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.