A final grade for the 2021 signing of Taijuan Walker

Pittsburgh Pirates v New York Mets
Pittsburgh Pirates v New York Mets / Adam Hunger/GettyImages

Two seasons which felt more like and a half seasons with the New York Mets have ended for starting pitcher Taijuan Walker. He was a finishing touch on the 2021 roster, signed late in the offseason to help round out a rotation that already included some pretty good arms.

Walker ended up replacing Jacob deGrom on the National League All-Star roster in that first year. He could have earned himself a spot easily thanks to a strong first half performance.

Unfortunately, Walker’s season went in circles after the All-Star Break. He was a completely different pitcher and one of the causes as to why the Mets slipped out of first place and even below .500. His time with the Mets, at least temporarily, has come to a close. How do we grade this free agent signing?

The Mets free agent signing of Taijuan Walker deserves a B

Everything should be taken into consideration with Walker. His performance. What he meant to the team. How much money he made.

Walker’s deal paid him $10 million in 2021, another $7 million in 2022, and included a player option that he has put to use for 2023. Two seasons with an average of $8.5 million is what the price comes down to. Did the Mets get value from it?

The totals from the two years include a 19-16 record, 3.98 ERA, and 316.1 innings in 59 starts and a relief appearance. Walker made 29 starts in each of his two seasons. He overcame one of the biggest questions: his health.

Getting and staying on the field had been a challenge for him previously. It’s why the Mets were able to get him at a reasonable price in free agency. He lived up to the contract. Walker gave the team veteran number four starter numbers. That’s exactly what he was often for them. Sometimes he was better. Sometimes he was worse.

The biggest contribution the Mets got from Walker was when they needed him during deGrom’s absence in 2022. His collapse in the second-half of 2021 may have lingered this past year in our minds. He overcame it with a 12-5, 3.49 ERA performance. It was steady.

The Walker signing won’t go down as one of the most impactful in Mets history because of how far they went with him—not very. Nonetheless, it turned out to be a wise addition. It set a standard for starting rotations under Steve Cohen’s watch.

Next. 15 best starting pitchers in Mets history. dark