Beast Mode and the Seahawks may not be the only reunion to warm the hearts of Seattle sports fans this holiday.
There aren’t a whole lot of ‘obvious fits’ in the free agent market when it comes to the Seattle Mariners. Their plan for the 2020 season has been made clear: it’s about the players already there and not impeding their well-earned opportunities to develop at the highest level. It shouldn’t be too long until the Mariners’ MLB rotation becomes the permanent home for the likes of Justin Dunn and Logan Gilbert, but before then, Jerry Dipoto and co. will look to supplement the back-end of their staff with at least one veteran starter and possibly two.
They’ve already brought in Kendall Graveman, who, for now, is penciled in as Seattle’s fourth rotation piece come Opening Day. Dipoto, however, has openly expressed interest in finding another veteran starter to compete with Dunn. There’s no reason to think that another acquisition isn’t on the horizon, but it could be a more significant move that would push Graveman into the competition with Dunn.
Plans constantly change as the market works itself out. There was no guarantee Taijuan Walker would even hit the market this winter, but here he is—a familiar face who fits the mold of what an opportunistic Mariners front office covets. Walker is still just 27 and will remain that age for the majority of the 2020 campaign and is at the point of return from Tommy John surgery.
Walker has only pitched a single major league inning since his surgery, but has shown really good signs throughout his rehab. The Mariners also caught Marco Gonzales at the tail-end of his rehab from Tommy John and successfully ushered him back into baseball, going on to develop him into a really solid piece at the top of their rotation. Bringing Walker into an organization that’s not only already familiar with him, but also has the credibility of doing some pretty neat things with a few pitchers over the last couple of years, sounds like the perfect situation for both parties.
There’s still a lot of upside for Walker, even after the injury. The stuff is there, and, as mentioned, so is the athleticism. The upper-middle-of-the-rotation ceiling is probably gone, but there’s no reason to think that Walker still can’t be a #4 or #5 in a good rotation. Or, perhaps, there’s a future for him in the bullpen if the velocity continues to stick to where it was pre-injury.
Either way, it just feels like Walker and Seattle are destined for one another again. He’s young, affordable, and Seattle may be the most comfortable landing spot for him to readjust to his new life in baseball. Sounds like a win-win for the Mariners and the best case scenario for Walker to try and revitalize his career.