Phillies, RHP Taijuan Walker reach 4-year, $72M deal

The Philadelphia Phillies and right-handed pitcher Taijuan Walker have agreed a four-year, $72 million deal, sources told ESPN’s Jeff Passan on Tuesday.

A day after landing shortstop Trea Turner in an 11-year, $300 million deal, the Phillies added one of the best pitchers left in the free-agent market to their rotation. And the spending didn’t stop there, with Philadelphia also inking a two-year, $15 million pact with left-hander Matt Strahm on Tuesday, sources told Passan.

They join a Phillies team that made it to the World Series this year before losing to the Houston Astros.

Walker had one of the strongest seasons of his career in 2022 when he started 29 games for the New York Mets and had a 3.49 ERA, 2.6 bWAR and a 1.19 WHIP in 157 innings and hit 132 batters while going 45 .

The Phillies are the fifth team in Walker’s major league career, including the Seattle Mariners, Arizona Diamondbacks, Toronto Blue Jays and Mets.

The 30-year-old right-hander was a reliable back-of-the-rotation starter for New York throughout the season before declining his $7.5 million player option for 2023 and accepting a $3 million buyout to explore the free hand. The Mets declined to make Walker a qualifying offer.

Walker underwent surgery by Tommy John back in 2018 and missed the entire 2019 season. His 2022 campaign was his most successful on the hill since treating a partial UCL tear in his right elbow.

Walker is the second pitcher to leave the Mets rotation after Jacob deGrom signed with the Texas Rangers. New York responded by signing Justin Verlander to a two-year, $86 million deal.

When asked about the market for Walker earlier in the day, agent Scott Boras said he was resilient. “As you can see in the marketplace, there are quite a few pitchers who pitch 60 and 70 innings who have been tracked, probably with the exception of (Jacob) deGrom, at the low end of the roughly $13 million to $15 million threshold. dollars 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 long-lived ones, and we expect to see him heavily pursued as his market develops.”

Walker joins a rotation led by Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola.

Strahm, 31, proved a reliable left-handed option for the Boston Red Sox, who he joined in 2022 after spending the last four seasons with the San Diego Padres. Over 44⅔ innings, he hit out 52, walked 17 and allowed five home runs while posting a 3.83 ERA in 50 games.

The Phillies spent most of 2022 with only Jose Alvarado in their bullpen as a high-leverage left-hander, although the signing of Walker Bailey could push Falter there as well if he doesn’t secure fifth in Philadelphia’s rotation. With the departures of Zach Eflin and Kyle Gibson via free agency, and Noah Syndergaard, Brad Hand and David Robertson reaching the open market, the Phillies entered the offseason looking for pitching help to fill a depleted staff strengthen.

Under Turner, Walker and Strahm, the Phillies’ combined spending spree totaled $387 million over the past 30 hours. Her projected 2023 payroll is currently more than $230 million — right on the first competitive balance sheet tax threshold of $233 million.

Information from The Associated Press was included in this report.

https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/35199637/phillies-reach-4-year-deal-rhp-taijuan-walker Phillies, RHP Taijuan Walker reach 4-year, $72M deal

Emma Bowman

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