The Mariners have added a pair of potential rotation candidates in Wei-Yin Chen and Nick Margevicius since last week, and they may not be done yet. It’s “believed” that they’re still interested in free-agent right-hander Taijuan Walker, Greg Johns of MLB.com reports. Johns first connected the Mariners to Walker over a month ago, but rumors centering on the 27-year-old have been scarce in the past several weeks.
There has already been one Seattle stint for Walker, whom the team chose 43rd overall in the 2011 draft and then saw blossom into an elite prospect. Walker stayed with the organization through 2016, but the M’s then traded him to Arizona in a move that netted them outfielder Mitch Haniger and middle infielder Jean Segura (now with the Phillies). Segura was later shipped out as part of a deal for the Mariners’ current shortstop, J.P. Crawford.
Walker, still only 27 years old, perhaps hasn’t lived up to the billing he had as a prospect. He had an uneven tenure with the M’s, though Walker was effective with Arizona in his first season there. Unfortunately, shoulder and elbow injuries (including Tommy John surgery) have cut him down dating back to 2018, having limited him to 14 innings in the past two seasons. Walker tossed just one frame last year, in the Diamondbacks’ final game.
Despite the arm troubles Walker has endured of late, he does look like one of the most interesting starters left in a free-agent market that has mostly been picked over. In the Mariners’ rebuilding position, Walker makes sense as a buy-low type who could have a chance to push for a spot in a rotation that’s short on established options behind Marco Gonzales.