SAN DIEGO – The Phillies don’t waste their time on winter meetings.
Two sources told MLB.com Tuesday night that the Phillies and right fielder Taiguan Walker have agreed to a four-year, $72 million contract, pending a physical contract. Walker, 30, will race behind Zach Wheeler, Aaron Nola and Ranger Suarez in the Philadelphia tournament, while a mix of left-handers Billy Walter and Christopher Sanchez and top prospects like right-hander Andrew Painter will battle it out for the No. 5 job.
A source also confirmed reports that the Phillies and left-handed reliever Matt Streep would see them close to a two-year, $15 million deal. He will be the second left man behind Jose Alvarado.
Walker and Strahm will be Philadelphia’s second and third important moves of the week as they try to upgrade their National League roster with a set of moves that will have everyone talking in the lobby of the Manchester Grand Hyatt.
The Phillies agreed to an 11-year, $300 million deal Monday with Trea Turner, who turned down an offer of $342 million from the Padres, a source tells MLB.com. Turner is scheduled to take on Wednesday in Philadelphia. It can be presented Thursday at a press conference at Citizens Bank Park.
Walker and you’ll see them will be announced at a later date.
But the Phillies have checked three boxes this week: shortstop, rotation, and bullpen, though they could find more pain relievers.
Walker went 12-5 with a 3.49 ERA in 29 starts last season with the Mets. 132 and walked 45 in 157 1/3 innings. He threw 159 innings with New York in 2021, making the National League All-Star team.
“Ideally, you’re looking for someone who can throw a number of innings, give you 30 starts and throw 160-180 innings,” Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Monday, when asked about his quest for a starting pitcher. “You want to have someone who can throw you quite a few roles, because we have the big three.”
Walker made only three starts in 2018 due to a right elbow injury, which eventually required Tommy John surgery. But he started all 11 games in a pandemic-shortened 20 season with the Mariners and Blue Jays before joining the Mets.
He has been in good health ever since.
One potential concern is Walker’s performance in the second half of the past two seasons. He went 7-3 with a 2.66 ERA in 16 first half starts in 2021, but went 0-8 with a 7.13 ERA after the All-Star break. He went 7-2 with a 2.55 ERA in his 16 first half starts this year, but posted a 4.80 ERA in 13 starts the rest of the way.
But then there’s the effectiveness of Split Walker, who he threw frequently last season. The Contenders batted . 195 with a . 267 percentage.
Walker seemed a good fit for the Phillies, who had always been shopping in that class of pitchers under Jacob DeGrom, Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodon. Dombrowski said Monday that Philadelphia has no appetite to sign another player who received a qualifying offer, such as Turner, who cost the team its second- and fifth-highest picks in the 2023 MLB draft, plus $1 million in international bonuses. If the Phillies had signed a starting pitcher who had an eligible pitch like Rodon, Chris Bassett, or Nathan Ivaldi, they would also have lost their third and sixth picks in terms of number remaining.
“I don’t think we’ll have much of an appetite for that,” Dombrowski said.
Strahm went 4-4 with a 3.83 ERA in 50 games last season with the Red Sox. Average speed on the four-seam fastball jumped from 93.1 mph in 2021 to 94.2 mph last season.
He effectively takes over the role of Brad Hand in a bullpen that includes Ceranthon Dominguez, Alvarado, Conor Brogdon and Andrew Pilati.