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Kyle Schwarber narrowly escapes Alex Bregman to advance in Home Run Derby

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Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber thought his 16 home runs would be enough to take down Astros third baseman Alex Bregman in the first round of the 2018 Home Run Derby. He was right, but Schwarber just barely escaped Bregman.

Because Schwarber hit two home runs that went 440 feet or longer, he unlocked 30 seconds of bonus time, which proved quite necessary. Schwarber added a couple of home runs to his total before giving way to Bregman.

Bregman, who had 20 home runs in the first half, hit a lot of line drives, peppering the stands in left field with home runs. He seemed to have enough time to at least tie Schwarber as the clock ran out. With his final swing, Bregman hit a fly ball to left-center that fell about three feet shy of tying Schwarber at 16. Bregman did not hit any home runs 440 feet or longer. Alas, Bregman was eliminated.

The Schwarber-Bregman round was thrilling and tense. While the four-minute clock isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, it is undeniably what made this round so fun. If you’re not watching the Home Run Derby, you’re really missing out on some enjoyable baseball-adjacent stuff.

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.