Possibly the steal of the winter, the New York Mets signed pitcher Taijuan Walker to a two-year deal worth $20 million with a player option for the third year. His 6-2 record and 2.12 ERA after 12 starts have won fans over already. Can you believe we have at least half-season plus all of next year to enjoy this guy?
Walker’s success isn’t nearly as much of a surprise as something else. According to Walker, who would know better than anyone else aside from maybe his agent, the Mets were the only team to make him an offer this winter.
What was the rest of the league thinking when they let Taijuan Walker slip to the Mets?
I know pitching is dominating the league this year and enough teams are out wouldn’t necessarily need Walker in their starting rotation. But even in a pitching-heavy season, Walker’s numbers are quite outstanding. He’d improve every staff in Major League Baseball. Somehow, 29 other general managers had other ideas.
One quirk in this bit of Mets news is that it appears the team technically outbid themselves for Walker’s services but not really all at the same time. I’m sure if clubs did think Walker would play for the experience they would have given him a chance.
To not receive a single offer from any other team in the league is astonishing. It also makes a whole lot of sense as to why the Mets were able to turn his direction late in the offseason. The 28-year-old righty didn’t officially sign with the club until February 20 when we’ve already thrown away our cheap Valentine’s Day cards from secret admirers.
Walker seemingly didn’t appear to have too many ball clubs lusting from him from afar. Fortunately, the Mets decided to choo-choo-choose him and drop a Valentine’s Day card in his box about a week after the card companies celebrated another victory over the hopeless romantics.
I think this lack of love Walker got as a free agent has helped contribute to the vibe around the Mets. Several players, including Kevin Pillar and Jonathan Villar, were downgraded from starters to bench guys. The fit was right to bring these “free agent rejects” together.
I understand other factors contributed to assembling these avengers. Money and opportunity weighed heavily. A lot, so far, has gone well with these guys.
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It doesn’t matter if you win by an inch or a mile or if you receive ten offers as a free agent or one. Winning is winning and Walker is doing a lot of it this year.