Braves Fire Manager Fredi Gonzalez

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It was only a matter of time. And now his time is up. David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Braves have fired Fredi Gonzalez as their manager. Brian Snitker, the club’s Triple-A manager, will step in as the interim skipper.

This was Gonzalez’ sixth season as the Braves manager. In that time he had compiled a 434-413 record. Last year, however, the Braves lost 95 games. This year they’re 9-28 and look to be one of the worst major league clubs in recent memory. Someone was bound to pay for that.

Not that the current state of affairs is of Gonzalez’ doing. The club, despite finishing in first place with 96 wins and possessing a contractually-controlled core of good young players in 2013, embarked on a wholesale rebuild last season, decimating the big league roster and punting winning on the major league level for the foreseeable future. Between that, Gonzalez not being under contract beyond this season, and the club’s clear plan of starting fresh in its new ballpark in 2017, Gonzalez’ fate was sealed before the first pitch of the season was thrown.

All of that said, Gonzalez has been a source of criticism for years, both by virtue of his following a Hall of Fame manager in Bobby Cox and suffering by comparison and because of his many tactical mistakes and multiple late season collapses from teams which were too talented to collapse, particularly in 2011.

This change will not do much to alter the Braves’ fortunes in 2016. That extraordinarily unpalatable cake has already been baked. But it will change the conversation for a time.

Phillies, RHP Taijuan Walker reportedly agree to 4-year deal

Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports
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SAN DIEGO – The active Philadelphia Phillies added Taijuan Walker to their rotation on Tuesday, agreeing to a $72 million, four-year contract with the right-hander.

A person familiar with the negotiations confirmed the move to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because it was pending a physical.

It was the second major free-agent score for the Phillies at the winter meetings after they reeled in shortstop Trea Turner on Monday with a $300 million, 11-year deal. Walker and Turner join a Phillies team that made it to the World Series this year before losing to the Houston Astros.

The 30-year-old Walker went 12-5 with a 3.49 ERA in 29 starts this season for the New York Mets, one of Philadelphia’s biggest NL East rivals. He slots into a rotation fronted by Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola.

The Phillies recently lost pitcher Zach Eflin in free agency to Tampa Bay.

Asked about the market for Walker earlier in the day, agent Scott Boras said it was robust.

“As you can see in the marketplace, there’s a whole number of pitchers that are throwing 60 and 70 innings that have been pursued, probably with the exception of (Jacob) deGrom, at the lower end of threshold around $13-15 million a year because the demand for quality pitching is so great,” Boras said.

“So, Tai … is one of the younger ones, one of the more durable ones and we expect him to be pursued greatly as his market unfolds.”

Walker was selected by Seattle with the No. 43 pick in the 2010 amateur draft. He made his big league debut with the Mariners in 2013.

Walker signed with New York as a free agent in February 2021. He turned down a $7.5 million player option last month in favor of a $3 million buyout, making his deal worth $17 million over two seasons.

The 6-foot-4 Walker made the All-Star team for the first time in 2021, putting together a fast start before fading to a 7-11 record with a 4.47 ERA in 30 games, 29 starts.