The Philadelphia Phillies added a former All-Star to their starting pitching rotation on Tuesday when Taijuan Walker signed on the dotted line for a four-year, $72million free agent contract.

Walker, 30, spent the past two seasons with the New York Mets, earning an All-Star selection in 2021, before improving his numbers this year.

The former Seattle Mariners and Arizona Diamondbacks starter tailed off badly in his All-Star season, going on to post an ERA of 4.47 in his 29 starts, but rebounded strongly.

This year he boasted an ERA of 3.49 in 29 starts, while his 2.6 walks-per-nine-innings was his best figure since 2016. His 15 home runs allowed were also his lowest of any season he has pitched at least 100 innings.

Walker will join a rotation already featuring 2021 NL Cy Young Award runner-up Zack Wheeler, as well as this season's fourth place for the award Aaron Nola, giving the reigning NL champions one of the strongest units in the majors.

Mitch Haniger has been scooped up by the San Francisco Giants in free agency, signing a three-year, $43.5million contract as he bids farewell to the Seattle Mariners.

Haniger, who turns 32 later this month, finished fifth in the American League for home runs in the 2021 season, blasting a career-high 39 with 100 RBIs in 157 games.

He battled a series of injuries this year and could only suit up for 57 games – a recurring theme in his career, including a lengthy absence after a ruptured testicle in 2019 – but he got healthy just in time to help the Mariners reach their first postseason since 2001.

The Giants are also a leading candidate to land the top outfielder in this year's free agent market, Aaron Judge, and according to ESPN's Jeff Passan their decision to sign Haniger will have no impact on those negotiations.

Haniger hit 31 home runs in the 2022 season, batting at .246/.308/.737 across 224 at-bats for the Mariners, who ended their 21-year postseason drought.

The Chicago Cubs landed 2019 NL MVP Cody Bellinger on Tuesday, signing him to a one-year, $17.5million free agent contract.

Bellinger, 27, has spent his entire six-year career with the Los Angeles Dodgers, highlighted by a remarkable 2019 campaign where he slashed .305/.406/.629 with 47 home runs and 115 RBIs.

All of those figures were career-highs, and while he remains a Gold Glove-calibre centre-fielder, his offensive production has cratered over the past two seasons.

Bellinger hit just .165 in 315 at-bats in 2021, and showed only slight improvement this year to hit .210 in 504 at-bats. He also hit more home runs in his MVP season than the past three combined (41).

At his age, Bellinger has plenty of time to turn things around, and he has decided a change of scenery could be what is needed, heading to a Cubs team that has not won a playoff series since 2017.

The one-year deal is an opportunity for Bellinger to prove he can still be an elite hitter, and Cubs manager David Ross said he feels his combination of skills makes it a risk worth taking.

"He's a really good fit from a perspective of [his] great defense, great base running, left-handed bat with the potential to have an uptick offensively," he said.

The Texas Rangers continue to be busy in the free-agent market, signing veteran left-handed starting pitcher Andrew Heaney on Tuesday to a two-year contract.

The deal is worth $25million with another $12m available in incentives, and includes an opt-out after the first season, according to ESPN.

The 31-year-old Heaney had a bounce-back season with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2022, going 4-4 with a 3.10 ERA in 16 appearances, including 14 starts.

After missing most of the first half of the season due to two stints on the injured list from left shoulder inflammation, Heaney returned to post a 1.09 WHIP and struck out a career-best 13.6 batters per nine innings.

Heaney joins a rotation that includes Jacob deGrom, who the Rangers signed to a five-year, $185m contract last week. DeGrom, considered the best pitcher in baseball when healthy, was the latest massive contract handed out by the Rangers.

Texas spent a combined $500m on middle infielders Corey Seager and Marcus Semien last offseason, and now add Heaney and DeGrom to a rotation that could include holdovers Jon Gray, and Martin Perez and recently acquired Jake Odorizzi.

In nine seasons with the Miami Marlins, Los Angeles Angels, New York Yankees and Dodgers, Heaney is 36-42 with a 4.56 ERA in 137 games, including 126 starts.

Aaron Judge remains the New York Yankees' top priority in free agency, says general manager Brian Cashman, as they look to tie down the 2022 American League MVP.

The four-time All-Star has spent his entire MLB career at Yankee Stadium, but failed to agree a new long-term deal ahead of last season, instead penning just a short-term contract.

With the 30-year-old out of contract, his options are open after a season that saw him shatter the single-season American League home run record with 62.

Cashman says owner Hal Steinbrenner has met with Judge over his future, and hopes they will be able to convince the outfielder to re-sign with them sooner rather than later.

"We'd love to have our player back," he said. "We would love to continue to call him our player every step of the way as he follows what looks like a career path that will lead him to [Hall of Fame home] Cooperstown.

"I appreciate being in a position to have a conversation with a player of Judge's magnitude The ownership here has allowed us to stay in the game on a big-ticket item.

"That's great. I'm sure there's a lot of teams that would love to have access to a player of his calibre but can't participate because the asks are going to be so immense."

Cashman acknowledged there are risks to waiting on Judge's call, both for whoever may otherwise sign him and how it will shape the Yankees going forward.

But he believes the wait will be worth it if they can bring him back into the fold, adding: "It's not like we've missed time in my opinion.

"I understand the longer things go, the more at risk you are. It's easier if we are driving, but we're not driving it."

The Philadelphia Phillies and shortstop Trea Turner have agreed to an 11-year, $300million contract, bolstering the lineup and infield of the reigning National League champions.

Turner will be reunited with former Washington Nationals teammate Bryce Harper, and joins a potent lineup that also includes Kyle Schwarber, J.T. Realmuto and Rhys Hoskins.

With his combination of power and speed, Turner had become one of the top prizes for this offseason’s free agency period and was also being pursued aggressively by the San Diego Padres, according to ESPN.

Turner is expected to become the Phillies' primary shortstop, likely moving touted rookie Bryson Stott to second base.

Turner, 29, is the fourth shortstop in MLB history to sign a contract with a total value of at least $300 million, following Francisco Lindor, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Corey Seager.

A two-time All-Star, Turner hit .298 last season for the Los Angeles Dodgers with 21 home runs, 39 doubles, a career-high 100 RBI and 27 stolen bases.

Since his first full season in the majors in 2016, Turner leads the MLB with 228 stolen bases, and his 85.1 per cent success rate on steals leads all players with at least 100 attempts over that span.

Turner has a career .302 batting average and .842 OPS, tallying 124 home runs, 586 runs scored and 230 stolen bases since his debut in 2015.

His new contract comes as a part of a flurry of deals from the MLB winter meetings, being held in-person for the first time since 2019.

Over $1billion in total contracts have been agreed to so far this offseason, including the blockbuster deal that landed former New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom with the Texas Rangers for up to six years and $222m.

The Mets responded by signing Justin Verlander to a two-year deal worth nearly $87m.

The Dodgers, who retained Clayton Kershaw on a one-year, $20m deal, but lost Turner, will look to be key players in the rest of free agency.

Outfielder and American League home run champion Aaron Judge remains the top free agent on the market, but the Dodgers could look to replace Turner at shortstop with Xander Bogaerts, Carlos Correa or Dansby Swanson.

Days after losing one two-time Cy Young Award winner to free agency, the New York Mets have bolstered their rotation by signing a three-time Cy Young Award winner.

Justin Verlander has agreed to two-year, $86million contract with the Mets. The deal, which was reported on Monday, includes a vesting third-year option.

The signing reunites Verlander with former Detroit Tigers team-mate and fellow three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer and helps the Mets fill a spot in the rotation after Jacob deGrom signed a five-year deal with the Texas Rangers on Friday.

Verlander helped the Houston Astros to the 2022 World Series title and the Mets are hoping he can help the franchise to their first championship since 1986.

He will turn 40 years old in February but is still one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball.

Despite missing the entire 2021 season recovering from Tommy John surgery, Verlander was the unanimous winner of his third Cy Young Award in 2022 after leading the majors with a 1.75 ERA and 0.83 WHIP, while going 18-4 with 185 strikeouts to 29 walks in 28 starts.

A nine-time All-Star, Verlander captured his first Cy Young Award in 2011 – a season in which he also won the AL MVP. He also won the 2019 AL Cy Young Award, as well as the 2006 AL Rookie of the Year Award.

For his career, Verlander is 244-133 with 3,198 strike outs, ranking first in both wins and strikeouts among active pitchers.

Verlander's historically fared well against NL East opponents, which bodes well for the Mets, as he has posted a 2.14 ERA against those teams in his career – his lowest ERA against any division. His career ERA is 3.24.

In four starts against NL East clubs last season, he went 4-0 without giving up a run over 25 innings, while striking out 26. 

With baseball’s winter meetings getting underway on Sunday, the Pittsburgh Pirates could be a very busy team now that center fielder Bryan Reynolds has requested a trade.

Reynolds hit .262 with 27 home runs and 62 RBIs in 145 games last season and as a young, controllable player would be a very attractive piece for teams should the Pirates choose to deal him.

"While it is disappointing, this will have zero impact on our decision-making this offseason or in the future," the team said Saturday in a statement.

"Our goal is to improve the Pirates for 2023 and beyond. With three years until he hits free agency, Bryan remains a key member of our team. We look forward to him having a great season for the Pirates."

The 27-year-old switch-hitter is set to earn $6.75 million this season in the second year of a two-year, $13 million arbitration extension. He is then under club control for two more seasons via arbitration before becoming eligible for free agency after the 2025 season.

Reynolds experienced a dip in production last season after he was an NL All-Star in 2021, when he batted .314 with 24 homers and 90 RBIs. He also had a career-best .390 on-base percentage and eight triples, tied for the major league high.

Pittsburgh finished 62-100 last season and is 211-335 for a .386 winning percentage in Reynolds’ four years with the team. The Pirates’ lead the majors in losses since the start of the 2019 season.

The Pirates acquired Ji-Man Choi in a trade with Tampa Bay on November 10 and signed fellow first baseman Carlos Santana to a one-year, $6.75 million contract.

Pirates general manager Ben Cherington said on Tuesday at the news conference for Santana's contract that the team wants to be better in 2023.

''We think we've got a group of young players that has a chance to help us get better and continue to get better and we'll try to add to that group in the way that makes the most sense,'' he said.

The Texas Rangers have not been shy about spending money recently, and that continued Friday as they agreed to a five-year, $185million contract with two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom.

DeGrom, who has spent his entire nine-year career with the New York Mets, is perhaps the most dominant pitcher in baseball when healthy.

His career 2.52 ERA ranks third in the expansion era (since 1961) behind Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw (2.48) and Hall-of-Famer Sandy Koufax (2.19) among those with at least 200 starts.

"We are thrilled that Jacob deGrom has decided to become a Texas Ranger," executive vice president and general manager Chris Young said in a statement.

"Over a number of seasons, Jacob has been a standout major league pitcher, and he gives us a dominant performer at the top of our rotation. One of our primary goals this offseason is to strengthen our starting pitching, and we are adding one of the best."

This blockbuster move comes just before baseball's winter meetings, which begin early next week in San Diego. The Rangers said deGrom will be introduced in a news conference at Globe Life Field next week following the winter meetings.

"It fits in so many ways in terms of what we need," Young said. "He's a tremendous person. I have a number of close friends and teammates who played with Jacob and love him. I think he's going to be just a perfect fit for our clubhouse and our fans."

DeGrom, however, has been limited to 26 starts and 156-and-a-third innings over the past two seasons due to elbow, forearm and shoulder blade injuries. He compiled a career-low 1.08 ERA over 92 innings in 2021, but did not pitch after July 7 that year because of arm trouble.

"We acknowledge the risk, but we also acknowledge that in order to get great players, there is a risk and a cost associated with that," Young said. "And one we feel like is worth taking with a player of Jacob's caliber."

The Rangers have spent nearly $761m in free agency over the past year, including massive contracts last offseason to shortstop Corey Seager ($325m, 10 years) and second baseman Marcus Semien ($175m, seven years). The moves didn’t pay off, though, as they finished 68-94 for their sixth consecutive losing season.

Texas responded by hiring three-time World Series champion Bruce Bochy as their new manager in October.

DeGrom didn’t make his season debut this past season until August, and went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 11 starts. After helping the Mets reach the playoffs, he passed up a $30.5m salary for 2023 and opted out his contract to become a free agent for the first time.

DeGrom won consecutive Cy Young Awards in 2018 and 2019 and is 82-57 with 1,607 strikeouts in 1,326 innings over nine big league seasons.

The reigning World Series champion Houston Astros have struck quickly to fill one of their few glaring needs after agreeing to a reported three-year contract with 2020 American League MVP Jose Abreu.

Abreu, who had spent his entire nine-year major league career with the Chicago White Sox, will earn $19.5 million per season, according to Houston television station KRIV.

The 35-year-old first baseman was named the AL’s top player during the coronavirus-shortened 2020 campaign after batting .317 with 19 home runs and an MLB-leading 60 RBIs in 60 games that season.

Though his home run total dipped from 30 in 2021 to 15 this past season, Abreu finished fifth in the AL in both batting average (.304) and on-base percentage (.378) after drawing a career-high 62 walks. Abreu also recorded the lowest strikeout rate of his MLB career at 16.2 per cent in 2022.

Abreu’s addition makes it unlikely the team will re-sign incumbent first baseman Yuli Gurriel, who struggled to a .242 average and a .647 OPS this past season and turned 38 in June.

It is the second notable signing the Astros have made this offseason after retaining reliever Rafael Montero to a three-year, $34.5 million contract earlier this month.

Houston still hopes to bring back its most prominent free agent in 2021 AL Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander, who is reportedly seeking a deal similar to the three-year, $130 million contract the Mets gave Max Scherzer last offseason.

Aaron Judge is resigned to being an intrigued observer when the ball he struck for a record-breaking 62nd home run goes up for auction – declaring he cannot afford to join the bidding race.

The 30-year-old set a single-season Yankees and AL home-run record by reaching 62 to surpass Roger Maris Sr's 61 – set 61 years ago in 1961.

Judge became the fourth major league player to hit 62 or more homers in a single season, and his feat belongs in baseball legend, making the ball that saw him set the record on October 4 especially valuable.

It occurred at the home of the Texas Rangers in Arlington, with the spectator at Globe Life Field that caught the ball striking lucky by guaranteeing himself an apparent fortune.

According to ESPN, that man, Cory Youmans, decided to put the ball in the hands of Goldin Auctions "after weeks of a lot of deep conversations" with his wife and lawyer.

Youmans said: "It seems fair in the sense it gives anyone that is interested and has the means the opportunity to own it. As a fan, I'm curious to see what it's worth, who buys it and what they do with it."

Youmans is said to have already turned down $3million for the ball, with his lawyer, Dave Baron, suspecting the final selling price could be "significantly higher based on New York, the New York fan base and how crazy it could get at an auction".

That rules Judge out of contention, as he said the ball is "out of my price range right now".

The ball is listed with a starting bid of $1million, with the auction due to get under way on November 30.

Judge said of the seller's choice: "He caught the ball, he's the one that made the play out there in left field, so it's his right to do what he wants with it. Hopefully he's making the right decision for him and his family.''

The ball's value will not have been harmed by Judge winning the AL Most Valuable Player (MVP) award ahead of Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani on Thursday.

Aaron Judge has capped his historic season after being crowned the AL Most Valuable Player (MVP) ahead of Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani on Thursday.

St Louis Cardinals slugger Paul Goldschmidt was also voted the NL MVP, beating out Manny Machado of the San Diego Padres and teammate Nolan Arenado for the award.

Judge's MVP, the first in his career, came after he broke the single-season Yankees and AL home-run record, reaching 62 to surpass Roger Maris Sr's 61 – set 61 years ago in 1961. He became the fourth major league player to hit 62 or more homers in a single season.

The Yankees outfielder led the AL in home runs (62), RBIs (131), slugging percentage (.686), on-base percentage (.425), OPS (1.111) and total bases (391), while he chased an AL Triple Crown down the stretch, but ultimately fell short as Minnesota Twins' utility Luis Arraez (.316) won the batting title.

Judge received 28 first-place votes for 410 points, ahead of Ohtani (280) and Houston Astros' Yordan Alvarez (232).

The 30-year-old already had two top-five MVP finishes on his resume, in 2017 and 2021, winning Silver Slugger awards in both years.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone said: "I’m grateful that I got to witness it first-hand and share in his magical year, especially given how much respect I have for him as a player and as a person."

Goldschmidt looked like the NL MVP since the All-Star break, batting .317 while leading the NL in OPS (.982) and slugging percentage (.578).

The Cardinals first baseman's 35 home runs finished one off his career-high, set in 2013 and equalled in 2017, giving him his seventh season with at least 30 dingers.

Goldschmidt won the MVP with 380 voting points, ahead of Machado (291) and Arenado (232). It is the sixth time in 35-year-old Goldschmidt's career that he has finished in the top-six for the award.

"I think definitely as you age, you have to adapt, and that's some of what I've tried to do. I've tried to get ahead of it," Goldschmidt told MLB Network. "I think it was my best season."

Philadelphia Phillies star Bryce Harper will have surgery on his right elbow next week although the exact operation and recovery timeline is still uncertain.

Harper will have surgery on November 23 to address the tear in the ulnar collateral ligament he suffered back in April.

Phillies president Dave Dombrowski said on Wednesday the surgeons won’t know until surgery begins if they’ll be performing Tommy John surgery or a less intensive repair of the existing UCL.

''We have no prognosis, really, until he goes into the elbow and takes a look at it,'' Dombrowski said of the surgeon. '

'We'll have something at that time with the surgery and the anticipation something will happen. I would think it will slow him down for the season. We'll know more next week.''

If he does have Tommy John surgery, recovery could force him to miss the first few months of the 2023 season. If it’s just a repair, he may only miss the season’s first week or two.

After injuring his elbow in April, Harper switched from right field to designated hitter to avoid the wear and tear of throwing.

He received a platelet-rich plasma injection shot in his elbow in May in an effort to repair it. But on Monday, Harper met with renowned orthopedist Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who determined surgery was necessary because the tear did not heal on its own.

''We always knew that was a possibility,'' Dombrowski said. ''We've known that for months.''

Despite playing in pain and missing two months with a broken thumb sustained when he was hit by a pitch, Harper still excelled in helping the Phillies reach the World Series, where they lost to the Astros.

In 99 games, the two-time NL MVP slashed .286/.364/.514 with 18 home runs, 28 doubles, 65 RBIs and 63 runs. He hit six more homers in 17 playoff games, and was named the NLCS MVP after hitting a dramatic game-winning homer in the series-clinching victory over the Padres.

''You don't ever want to lose Bryce, you really don't,'' Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. ''He's one of the best hitters in baseball, if not the best.

"We spent a lot of time last year without him. Guys responded. It gave opportunities to other people to step up and they did. While we will be missing him, and looking forward to getting him back, it'll give somebody else an opportunity.''

The Phillies open the season March 30 at Texas.

Justin Verlander joined an exclusive club after being crowned the AL Cy Young Award winner for the third time, while Sandy Alcantara was voted NL winner unanimously as well.

The 39-year-old, who became a two-time World Series champion last month with the Houston Astros, received a unanimous vote after posting an MLB-best 1.75 ERA and striking out 185 batters in 175 innings over 28 starts in the 2022 regular season.

Verlander (2010) beat out Dylan Cease (97) of the Chicago White Sox and Alek Manoah (87) of the Toronto Blue Jays for the award, having also been crowned in 2011 and 2019.

The award comes after Verlander spent most of the past two seasons recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Verlander became the fourth-oldest Cy Young winner and is the 11th player to win the award three or more times.

The unanimous vote for both Verlander and Miami Marlins right-hander Alcantara marks the second time that has occurred in the same year, previously only in 1968 for Bob Gibson and Denny McLain.

Alcantara had the majors-best 228-and-two-third innings pitched, throwing six complete games, with a regular-season 2.28 ERA, with 207 strikeouts.

The 27-year-old was the first NL unanimous vote winner since Clayton Kershaw in 2014. Alcantara (210) beat Max Fried (72) of the Atlanta Braves and Julio Urias (66) of the Los Angeles Dodgers for the award.

The MLB announced more award winners on Monday, with budding Seattle Mariners superstar Julio Rodriguez named the American League Rookie of the year, while the National League version went to Atlanta Braves center-fielder Michael Harris II.

It is the third major honour bestowed upon the 21-year-old Rodriguez in his first year, as he was also named as the only rookie to make the All-Star game, and last week became one of the three AL outfielders to win a Silver Slugger.

Batting .284 with an OPS of .853, Rodriguez became the only first-year player to ever tally at least 25 home runs and at least 25 stolen bases.

He was one first-place vote away from taking the AL's best rookie unanimously, claiming 29 of the 30 first-place votes, with the other going to impressive Baltimore Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman.

Cleveland Guardians outfielder Steven Kwan was a clear third, with the Kansas City Royals' Bobby Witt Jr and the Houston Astros' World Series MVP Jeremy Pena also collecting some third-place votes.

In the National League, Harris received 22 of the 30 first-place votes, and the other eight went to his Braves teammate, starting pitcher Spencer Strider.

Strider's 202 strikeouts was 11th-most in the majors, and his rate of 13.8 strikeouts per nine innings was the best figure among starting pitchers this season.

However, voters preferred what Harris could provide every day with the bat and glove, batting .297 with an identical OPS to Rodriguez at .853. He also hit 19 home runs with 20 stolen bases, and boasted a fielding percentage of .992, with two errors from 257 chances.

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