The Seattle Mariners need to bring back Taijuan Walker for the third time.
Taijuan Walker has been somewhat of an enigma as a major league pitcher. He was taken in the first round of the 2010 draft by your beloved Seattle Mariners, called up for good in 2014, started a bunch of games between 2015 and 2017 – 82 to be precise – and then injuries hit. In 2018 and 2019, Walker pitched in four games combined. The Mariners brought back Walker in 2020 though, and he was healthy and good.
At the trade deadline this past season, Seattle traded Walker to the Toronto Blue Jays. Walker brought back some decent talent in rightfield Alberto Rodriguez and the Blue Jays went nowhere in the postseason. But this wasn’t any fault of Walker’s. With Toronto, Walker was 2-1 in six starts but with a dazzling ERA of 1.70 and 25 strikeouts in 26.1 innings.
Now, Walker is a free agent again and the Mariners should definitely entertain the possibility of bringing back the 28-year-old.
Walker isn’t Blake Snell and never will be. But Taijuan Walker has become a good veteran who appears to be a good teammate and, if healthy, will eat innings as a number three or four starter. And this is what the Mariners need. Seattle needs to stick with the process. That is, develop their talented prospects and bring them up slowly to the majors. But while doing this, not overspend on any top-tier free agents or trade away potential top-end talent.
2021 and beyond
Seattle exceeded expectations in 2020, but they still weren’t a good team and they may not be a very good team in 2021. Sure, the talent is building up but Seattle still needs to think 2022 is the year they contend for a playoff spot.
If 2021 develops as it should, Seattle will be a near-.500 team with the expectation that prospects are added to the roster later in the year to get them ready for 2022. Adding a very good free agent for 2022 might be a way to go but not now.
Taijuan Walker can help Seattle be a better team in 2021 than they were in 2020. He isn’t going to make the team a playoff contender. But Walker is also just 28-years-old so signing him to a two-or-three year deal should be something the Mariners do. He might be a number four starter in 2022, but he would also be a better number four starter than most other teams would have.