The Phillies announced a series of roster moves, including the news that left-hander Francisco Liriano and infielder Logan Forsythe have been granted releases. Infielder Neil Walker, meanwhile, has been told he will be on Philadelphia’s Opening Day roster, so the team will be officially selecting his minor league contract at some point between now and the first game. In other moves, catcher Henri Lartigue has been removed from the Summer Camp player pool and righty Victor Arano was optioned to Triple-A.
Liriano and Forsythe both had opt-out decisions coming this week, and it seems as if the club gave them an early start on the open market since neither were in the Phillies’ plans. Walker, by contrast, also had an opt-out clause but will now receive the prorated sum of his original (non-specified) guarantee for making the big league team.
Forsythe and Walker were among several veteran infielders added by the Phillies this winter, as Josh Harrison, Ronald Torreyes, and Phil Gosselin were also signed to minor league deals. The latter trio is still in camp, though it remains to be seen how many other roster spots will be available. Scott Kingery is back after recovering from COVID-19 though it isn’t yet known if he’ll be ready for Opening Day, while star prospect Alec Bohm figures to arrive at some point in 2020, perhaps once service time considerations are no longer a factor.
Walker, 34, hit .261/.344/.395 with eight homers over 381 PA with Miami last season, delivering roughly league-average (98 OPS+, 99 wRC+) offensive production. The switch-hitting Walker did much of his damage from the left side of the plate last season, as has been the norm for much of his career.
It seemed as if Forsythe was having a comeback season for the first two months of his tenure with the Rangers last season, but a hot start quickly turned, and the 33-year-old ended up with only a .227/.325/.353 slash line from 367 PA. Forsythe will now look to catch on with his fifth different organization within the last two years.
There was some doubt as to whether or not Liriano would play at all during the 2020 season, as the southpaw reportedly considered sitting out due to COVID-19 concerns before eventually showing up at Philadelphia’s camp. 2019 saw Liriano work exclusively as a reliever for the first time in his long career, and he delivered a 3.47 ERA, 1.80 K/BB rate, 50.3% grounder rate, and 8.1 K/9 over 70 innings out of the Pirates’ bullpen. As you would expect, Liriano performed better against left-handed batters (holding them to a .659 OPS) but also held righty swingers to a respectable .730 OPS.
Beyond these numbers, however, Liriano also allowed a lot of hard contract, so there is some uncertainty as to whether he’d be able to replicate his solid 2019 statistics again. Given teams’ ever-present need for left-handed pitching, one would think Liriano will be able to find another minor league deal elsewhere.