Phillies Sign Walker for Four Years, $72 Million

Phillies Sign Walker
(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Updated 11:22 PM Pacific

The Philadelphia Phillies have made an agreement to sign right-handed starting pitcher Taijuan Walker for four years at $72 million. Monday, the Phillies made a splash at the MLB Winter Meetings by signing Trea Turner for 11 years at $300 million. Today, the Phillies add pitching in Walker. In 2022, Walker pitched to a 3.49 ERA with 7.6 strikeouts and 2.6 walks per nine innings. His home runs per nine innings were sub-one at 0.9, which is fantastic. But he only threw for 157 1/3 innings. In fact, Walker has never thrown for more than 169 2/3 innings in a season. When he is healthy, Walker will provide about 150-160 innings of work in 28-30 starts. In each of the last three seasons when Walker was healthy, save 2020’s COVID-shortened season, he averaged 157 innings pitched and 29 games started.

The 30-year-old Walker made improvements for the New York Mets during the 2022 season. While he did not earn All-Star honors in 2022 as he did in 2021, Walker did lower his home run rate from 1.5 to 0.9 and his walk rate from 3.1 to 2.6. He also dropped his ERA by almost a full point, from 4.47 to 3.49. Walker’s ERA+ rose from 90 in 2021 to 111 in 2022. Walker’s fly ball percentage dropped by 4.9% while his ground ball rate rose by 4%. All of these statistics suggest that Walker had more control of his pitches in 2022 than he had in 2021. Perhaps this is what made the Phillies want to sign him.

Phillies Rotation After Walker Signing

Zack Wheeler needs no introduction. In 2021, he was an All-Star, finished second in the Cy Young Award voting, and also received MVP votes. In 2022 all he did was pitch to a 2.82 ERA and 1.039 WHIP in 153 innings of work. He struck out 9.6 batters per nine innings while only walking 2.

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Aaron Nola has seen ups and downs in the league, but 2023 will be his ninth season with the Phillies. He has had an ERA as high as 4.78 and an ERA as low as 2.37. But in 2022, Nola led the NL with only 1.3 walks per nine innings. Additionally, his strikeouts per nine innings were 10.3 while giving up only 0.8 home runs per nine innings. In 205 innings, Nola struck out 235 batters and had a sub-one WHIP for the second time in his career, which was 0.961. The hard-hit rate on batted balls against him was only 31.8% and his strikeout rate was 29.1%.

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Ranger Suárez posted similar numbers to Walker last season. Suárez and Walker both had the same ERA+, which was 111. Suárez threw for two fewer innings. Their home run and strikeout rates were about the same and they both started about the same amount of games. Additionally, the two allow about the same amount of hits per inning but Suárez walks at a higher rate, which leads to a higher WHIP. 55% of Suárez’s batted balls came on the ground in 2022.

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Bailey Falter may be the fifth option if the Phillies decide to stop spending. Falter started 16 games in 2022 and pitched to a 3.86 ERA and 106 ERA+. Walker will likely slot in third or fourth in the pitching rotation.

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Players Mentioned:

Taijuan Walker, Trea Turner, Zack Wheeler, Aaron NolaRanger Suárez, Bailey Falter

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Chris Gray

Chris Gray

Chris is a writer, philosopher, and web developer. He is currently the Web Developer as well as an Editor and Contributor for SportRelay.

When Chris was young, he played Little League Baseball for years. In addition, he used to look at the statistics on baseball cards to compare the different players and trade the cards with his friends. As a teenager, he worked as a Computer Technician until he landed a position as a Network Administrator at a middle school in Los Angeles, California.

Feeling unfulfilled with a lack of education to combine with his work and life experience, he returned to school, obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Philosophy from UCLA, and now spends his time writing, investing, thinking, programming, and enjoying baseball.

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