In the offseason between 2003 and 2004, the Mariners traded injury-prone shortstop Carlos Guillen to the Tigers for Ramon Santiago and Juan Gonzalez (nope, not the real one). In Santiago’s mere 27 games in Seattle through two seasons, he was as memorable to the team as Pokey Reese in 2005.
Due to an obvious underperformance as a Mariners, Santiago was spat back out to the Tigers. The cruel irony is that not only did he and Guillen become teammates in 2006, but they also went on to play in the World Series and play together another five seasons.
This wouldn’t be the first time that two trade counterparts would join hands in the same uniform shortly after. First-stint Taijuan Walker was no draft slouch, getting picked 43rd in 2010’s first round. He never achieved young-Felix filthiness in his first stint but was good enough overall.
And speaking of injury-prone, Dipoto clearly laid out the message of prioritizing James Paxton over Taijuan for the future star pitcher. It began when during fall 2016, he shipped Taijuan and Ketel Marte (we don’t talk about him) to the desert for Jean Segura and Mitch Haniger.
What sounds familiar about this trade story? You guessed it; Mitch and Taijuan have gone from opposing trade bait to teammates. And for those who like watching former Mariners coming to visit, Jean Segura will make his Seattle return this July with the Phillies.
But anyway, back to Taijuan. He clearly was a bust for the D’backs and hardly played for them at all. A good sign is that unlike a handful of former Mariners, Taijuan has said, “I’m comfortable here” (Oregon Live). It’s always assuring when a Mariner wants to be in Seattle.
We all should give Taijuan the benefit of the doubt and hope he is good support alongside Marco in the rotation. So how can he help Jerry Dipoto out? By pitching in a second stint that is far superior to his first. As of right now, reacquiring Taijuan looks like a mixed signal from Dipoto.
You wanted to keep Paxton but not Taijuan? You then trade Paxton (which was a smart move injury-wise) and re-sign Taijuan four years after trading him away? After appearing to have won that Arizona trade, momentum has shifted. Ketel is a rising star for the D’backs. Jean is gone and Mitch, if he can’t put together a durable season, should probably depart as well.
And if Mitch misses all of this season, Taijuan needs to have star second stint. By doing so, he would remind Dipoto that he didn’t actually lose that trade, he gained momentum back in an ironic way.
Taijuan’s success in his Seattle encore would be a true redemption story for both him and his general manager. It would be a much-needed fresh start for a team that very much needs pitching. Get it done, Taijuan, glad to have you back.