Beltrán, Lackey lead 14 newcomers on Baseball Hall ballot

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY
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NEW YORK – Carlos Beltran, John Lackey and Jered Weaver are among 14 newcomers on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s Hall of Fame ballot in what could turn into an evaluation of the Houston Astros’ cheating scandal.

R.A. Dickey, Huston Street, Francisco Rodriguez, Bronson Arroyo and Matt Cain also are new to the ballot, joined by Jacoby Ellsbury, Jayson Werth, Mike Napoli, J.J. Hardy, Jhonny Peralta and Andre Ethier, the Hall and the BBWAA said Monday.

Holdovers include Scott Rolen, Todd Helton and Billy Wagner. Rolen received 249 of 394 votes last year (63.2%), when David Ortiz was elected with 307 votes (77.9%), 11 more than the 75% needed. Helton was on 205 ballots (52%) and Wagner 201 (51%).

Voters denied several stars tainted by steroids and scandal.

Barry Bonds (260 votes, 66%), Roger Clemens (257, 65.2%) and Curt Schilling (231, 58.6%) were dropped after their 10th appearances on the ballot last year and are among eight players who will appear on the ballot of the Hall’s contemporary baseball era committee, which meets Dec. 4 in San Diego ahead of baseball’s winter meetings.

Other holdovers on the BBWAA ballot include Andruw Jones (163 votes last year, 41.1%), Gary Sheffield (160, 40.6%), Alex Rodriguez (135, 34.3%), Jeff Kent (129, 32.7%), Manny Ramirez (114, 28.9%), Omar Vizquel (94, 23.9%), Andy Pettitte (42, 10.7%), Jimmy Rollins (37, 9.4%), Bobby Abreu (34, 8.6%), Mark Buehrle (23, 5.8%) and Torii Hunter (21, 5.3%).

Kent, who received his highest percentage last year, will appear on the BBWAA ballot for the 10th and final time.

BBWAA members with 10 or more consecutive years of membership are eligible to vote. Ballots must be postmarked by Dec. 31 and results will be announced Jan. 24.

Any players elected will be inducted into the Hall at Cooperstown on July 23 along with anyone elected by the contemporary baseball era committee.

A nine-time All-Star, Beltran had a .279 batting average, 435 home runs, 1,587 RBIs and 312 stolen bases for Kansas City, Houston, the New York Mets, San Francisco, St. Louis, the Yankees and Texas. He was hired as Mets manager on Nov. 1, 2019, then was fired on Jan. 16 without having managed a game, three days after he was the only Astros player mentioned by name in a report by Major League Baseball regarding the team’s illicit use of electronics to steal signs during Houston’s run to the 2017 World Series.

Alex Rodriguez, a three-time MVP and 14-time All-Star who hit 696 home runs, was suspended for the 2014 season for violating MLB’s drug policy and collective bargaining agreement, and Ortiz’s name was alleged to have appeared on a list of players who tested positive during 2003 survey testing.

Lackey won Game 7 of the 2002 World Series for the Anaheim Angels as a rookie, then added World Series titles with the 2013 Boston Red Sox and the 2016 Chicago Cubs. He was 188-147 with a 3.92 ERA in 15 seasons and 8-6 with a 3.44 ERA in the postseason.

Weaver, a three-time All-Star, was 150-98 with a 3.63 ERA.

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.