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Mets narrow down their GM candidates to three

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Anthony DiComo of MLB.com reports that the New York Mets have narrowed their list of general manager candidates to three: Chaim Bloom, Doug Melvin and Brodie Van Wagenen. All other candidates are out. They will conduct call-back interviews beginning tomorrow, which presumably means owner Fred Wilpon coming in and making the final decision.

According to Mike Puma of the New York Post, Melvin is the front-runner based on his experience. Melvin, of course, ran the Milwaukee Brewers for years, transitioning out of the GM job and into an advisory role after the 2015 season. Before stepping back, Melvin was responsible for acquiring Corey Knebel and Josh Hader and re-acquiring Jeremy Jeffress, each of which played an important part on the 2018 team. It is thought that Fred Wilpon prefers a seasoned “baseball man” in the team’s GM roll, so if Wilpon gets his way, the 66-year-old Melvin will be the choice.

Fred Wilpon’s son Jeff, however, is thought to prefer a younger, analytical type. If he somehow gets his way, you’d figure it’d be Bloom, who is the vice president of baseball operations for the Rays. He was a front-runner for the Twins job when it was open. He certainly knows how to help build a competitive team on the cheap, which one presumes is what the Wilpons want.

Van Wagenen is an agent at CAA. That would be an unusual choice given the fairly adversarial relationship that exists between agents and clubs, but he’s obviously shown the Mets something if he’s a finalist.

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.