Mets should consider “buying high” on free agent pitcher Taijuan Walker
By Tim Boyle
Free agent starting pitcher Taijuan Walker did a lot to help his value in 2020. The New York Mets should consider “buying high” on him this winter.
Taijuan Walker is a name many loyal MLB fans have heard for years. Unbelievably, he has been pitching in the big leagues since 2013 when he made his debut with the Seattle Mariners. This winter, Walker enters free agency for the second straight season. For the New York Mets, it might be worth buying high on him following a superb season in 2020.
Walker was about as average as can be in his 5+ seasons with the Seattle Mariners. He was 24-24 with a 4.17 ERA in 67 starts and three relief appearances. His time with the Arizona Diamondbacks took a detour following Tommy John Surgery. It’s almost not worth looking at his numbers, but for the sake of understanding what he can maybe do, Walker was 9-9 with a 3.47 ERA in his 32 starts for them.
Even better, Walker finished strong with the Toronto Blue Jays this past season. He made six starts for them—going 2-1 with a magnificent 1.37 ERA.
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While Walker’s career numbers aren’t dazzling, he sure did convince me he’s fully healthy again this past season. For the Mets, in their pursuit of better things with the starting rotation, why not take a chance?
Working well in his favor, Walker is only 28-years-old. He hasn’t gotten paid big bucks yet in free agency. Coming off his 2020 campaign, he might overprice himself slightly.
The good news for him is that the free agent market for starting pitchers is not phenomenal. Beyond Trevor Bauer and Marcus Stroman, there are few players we might list ahead of him.
Walker isn’t going to reshape the Mets’ fortunes. However, if he was to become the club’s third or fourth starter, the team is in a much better position. If health is of any concern, let’s see the Mets add in some incentives to get on the mound.
Signing Walker isn’t as easy as some fans may make it seem. Sure, Steve Cohen has endless rolls of money. This doesn’t mean Walker would even want to play for the Mets. The best deal isn’t always the one a player signs.
It’s nearly impossible for the Mets to revamp their starting five solely through free agency. A trade might need to happen.
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An alternative option, though, could have them inking Walker to a deal even if it comes with a little more risk than most of us would be willing to take.