Free agent catcher Erik Kratz has inked a minors deal with the Yankees, Conor Foley of the Scranton Times-Tribune reports. Official confirmation of the signing is still pending, but it seems to be fortuitous timing for the veteran catcher, who received his official release from the Rays on Friday.
Kratz, 38, has bounced around the league for the last few seasons and split his first 21 games of 2019 between the Giants and Rays. He reported to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre batting a collective .102/.170/.204 with three extra-base hits, three RBI, and a .374 OPS through 53 plate appearances so far.
Lackluster numbers notwithstanding, Kratz is expected to provide welcome depth behind the Yankees’ Austin Romine and Gary Sanchez. While Romine has maintained a steady presence behind the dish this spring, Sanchez missed some time on the injured list after sustaining and rehabbing a left calf strain.
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.