2. Jameson Taillon, RHP Pittsburgh Pirates
Well, the Pirates can call it building instead of rebuilding all they want, but they have a sub-$50 million payroll in 2020 and a mediocre farm system. They aren’t making the playoffs anytime soon and Jameson Taillon can’t even help them this year.
Taillon will be tricky for any inquiring team to evaluate because he is going to miss some time in 2020 working his way back from his second Tommy John surgery. For the Mariners, this means that he will basically be useable in 2021 and 2022 before becoming a free agent.
Like Gray, Taillon is a former Top 5 pick who has been a successful mid-rotation arm who has flashed better but hasn’t quite lived up to expectations. Taillon lacks the strikeout potential of Gray, but still possed a 95 MPH fastball prior to his elbow issue and a wicked curveball.
Taillon offers a deeper repertoire, throwing a 4 pitch mix compared to Gray’s 2 pitch mix. Taillon is also quite good at getting groundballs, posting a 48% groundball rate for his career. He isn’t a major swing and miss type of arm, but has a solid 8.09 K/9 rate in his career, along with a very good 2.26 BB/9 stat.
What type of stuff and command Taillon will show coming off his second TJ surgery will be a bit of an unknown, but the high floor of a #3 starter when healthy is going to be appealing to a lot of teams. He still has the advantage of youth and will spend all of 2020 as a 28-year-old.
Pittsburgh would likely prefer a package of prospects with the focus of being ready 3-4 years down the line and Seattle has a couple of guys who fit that mold. But Seattle’s assets in trade talks will weigh heavily to near MLB ready types.
Taillon is a tough price tag to figure, but his high floor and still decent upside makes him an interesting option for teams going forward.