Phillies

Source: Phillies have had talks with free-agent lefty Drew Smyly

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USA Today Images/Tim Heitman

Source: Phillies have had talks with free-agent lefty Drew Smyly

The Phillies are in talks to sign free-agent starting pitcher Drew Smyly, according to a source.

Smyly became a free agent on Thursday when he opted out of his minor-league contract with the Milwaukee Brewers.

It is well known that the Phillies are in the market for starting pitching. They have spoken to the Texas Rangers about Mike Minor, the Detroit Tigers about Matthew Boyd and the San Francisco Giants about Madison Bumgarner. They have also investigated the possibility of trading for Zack Greinke, Arizona’s high-priced right-hander.

In addition to inquiring about and gauging what it would take to get a top starter — the price is high and the Phils don't want to give up the multiples of top prospects that other clubs are asking for — the Phils have also considered marginal upgrades like Andrew Cashner, who was traded from Baltimore to Boston, and Homer Bailey, who went from Kansas City to Oakland.

Smyly, 30, would be a potential marginal upgrade for the Phillies. Signing him could also help the bullpen as it might allow the Phils to put Vince Velasquez back in the bullpen, where he showed some flashes of brilliance earlier this season.

Smyly went 31-27 with a 3.74 ERA in 156 games (85 starts) for Detroit and Tampa Bay from 2012 to 2016. He did not pitch in the majors in 2017 or 2018 as he recovered from Tommy John surgery, and pitched poorly with Texas earlier this season — 8.42 ERA, 1.909 WHIP and a 50.6 hard-contact rate in 51 1/3 innings — and was released in late June. Milwaukee signed him in early July as potential depth. He allowed seven runs in 12 2/3 innings over three starts at Triple A before opting out of his deal Thursday.

For a Phillies team desperate for starting pitching, Smyly is at least worth a look. Stay tuned.

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Phillies add veteran depth in bullpen, infield with a flurry of signings

Phillies add veteran depth in bullpen, infield with a flurry of signings

Three weeks before the start of spring training, the Phillies were busy Wednesday finalizing minor-league contracts with three pitchers and a utility infielder.

The team announced the signings of veteran relievers Drew Storen, Bud Norris and Francisco Liriano, as well as veteran infielder Neil Walker.

Of the group, Liriano, 36, might have the best chance to impact the 2020 Phillies. The left-hander, a starter for the bulk of his major-league career, was used exclusively as a reliever with Pittsburgh last season. He pitched in 69 games and recorded an ERA of 3.47 over 70 innings. Liriano was particularly effective against lefty hitters, holding them to a .194 batting average (14 for 72.)

Storen, 32, and Norris, 34, are both right-handers with significant big-league time. Neither pitched in the majors last season because of health reasons. Storen was recovering from Tommy John surgery and Norris had a forearm injury. There are opportunities in the Phillies’ bullpen and both will be given a look in spring training.

Walker, 34, is an 11-year veteran who has spent much of his career as a regular second baseman, mostly with Pittsburgh. He has bounced around the diamond in recent seasons, particularly with the New York Yankees in 2018, where he played first base, second base, third base and both corner outfield spots. He played first, second and third with the Miami Marlins last season and hit .261 with eight homers and 38 RBIs in 337 at-bats.

Walker, a switch-hitter, will vie for a spot as a reserve with the Phillies. Rosters expand from 25 to 26 men this season and that will allow the Phillies to carry an extra player on their bench. There are plenty of candidates for that job. Earlier this winter, the Phillies signed veteran infielders Josh Harrison, Phil Gosselin and Ronald Torreyes to minor-league deals. The team is also bringing veteran outfielders Matt Szczur and Mikie Mahtook to big-league camp on minor-league deals. The competition for a spot as a reserve outfielder will also include Nick Williams and Nick Martini, both of whom are on the 40-man roster.

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Phillies agree to deal with Francisco Liriano

Phillies agree to deal with Francisco Liriano

After months of inactivity in the bullpen, the Phillies have added three relievers in two days. The latest signing is of left-hander Francisco Liriano. It's a minor-league deal in which Liriano will earn $1.5 million if he makes the team, with up to $1.25 million in incentives, according to Robert Murray.

Liriano is better than the pair of pitchers the Phillies agreed to minor-league deals with earlier this week: Drew Storen and Bud Norris. Those two didn't pitch at all in the majors in 2019.

Liriano, though, was effective in 2019. He had a 3.47 ERA in 69 appearances with the Pirates. Control has always been an issue dating back to his early days with the Twins, whether Liriano has been a starter or reliever. He has walked 4.9 batters per nine innings over the last three seasons.

Still, Liriano has the potential to be a solid left-handed weapon in the Phils' 'pen, and perhaps a spot starter in a pinch. Lefties were just 29 for 160 (.181) against Liriano the last two seasons.

If he makes the team, it would give the Phillies three left-handed relief options in Liriano, Adam Morgan and Jose Alvarez. Morgan can face hitters from both sides but Alvarez is a lefty specialist. Alvarez, who had a 3.36 ERA in 59 innings, was one of the Phillies' unsung players in 2019.

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