Right-hander Taijuan Walker entered the professionals as the 43rd overall pick of the Mariners in 2010. Walker didn’t realize his vast potential with the Mariners, nor has he since they traded him a few years ago, but a reunion between the two could be in the offing. Walker’s now a free agent, and Seattle’s “definitely interested” in bringing him back, Greg Johns of MLB.com writes.
Walker, once among the game’s premier prospects, left the Mariners in a blockbuster trade just over three years ago. That deal sent Walker and now-star second baseman/outfielder Ketel Marte to Arizona and delivered middle infielder Jean Segura (now a Phillie) and outfielder Mitch Haniger to Seattle. Walker was then coming off his second straight reasonably productive season in the majors, and the 6-foot-4 starter debuted well with the Diamondbacks in his first year with the club before injury troubles cut him down.
During his initial campaign with the Diamondbacks, Walker pitched to a 3.49 ERA/4.04 FIP with 8.35 K/9, 3.49 BB/9 and a 48.9 percent groundball rate across 157 1/3 innings. But Walker totaled a mere 14 frames over the next two years (just one last season) on account of arm problems. Walker underwent Tommy John surgery in April 2018, which is one of the reasons Arizona decided to jettison him earlier this winter instead of paying him a projected $5.025MM in his final run through arbitration.
While the D-backs didn’t want to take a chance on Walker in 2020, he does look like an intriguing free agent in an ever-dwindling marketplace. A rebuilding team like Seattle, which has few to no established arms in its rotation after Marco Gonzales, looks like a good fit.