It’s hardly surprising that teams are interested in Taillon, given that just about every club is looking to bolster its rotation at this time of year. The starting pitching market is headlined by aces like Jacob deGrom, Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodon, with those guys looking for hefty contracts that only certain teams will be willing to pay. Taillon, however, is generally considered to be part of the next tier of serviceable mid-rotation arms, which means his contract will be lesser than those aces but his market wider.
The Pirates selected Taillon with the second overall pick back in the 2010 draft and he was a highly-touted prospect during his time in the minors. However, his big league debut was delayed by both Tommy John surgery and testicular cancer, but Taillon eventually got through both of those ordeals and made it to the big leagues in 2016.
Over this first three years, he established himself as a solid big league arm, tossing 428 2/3 innings by the end of 2018, with a 3.63 ERA, 21.7% strikeout rate and 6.1% walk rate. Unfortunately, he was limited to just seven starts in 2019 before requiring flexor tendon surgery and a second Tommy John. That wiped out the remainder of his 2019 and kept him sidelined for all of 2020.
Taillon never suited up for the Pirates again, as he was traded to the Yankees going into 2021. It was a risky move for the Yanks, given Taillon’s uncertain injury situation. But he has stayed healthy the past two years outside of a brief IL stint for an ankle injury late in 2021. He still made 29 starts that year and 32 in 2022, producing a combined 4.08 ERA over the past two seasons along with a 21.9% strikeout rate, 5.7% walk rate and 37.1% ground ball rate.
Those aren’t elite numbers but they’re certainly good enough for Taillon to upgrade most pitching staffs around the league. However, the Yankees didn’t issue him a $19.65MM qualifying offer, evidently unwilling to pay that Taillon at that rate. MLBTR predicted Taillon to secure himself a contract of $56MM over four years, an average annual value of $14MM, though Feinsand reports that Taillon is expected to beat that figure. The starting pitching market has seemed robust so far, with Tyler Anderson getting $39MM over three years while Mike Clevinger and Matt Boyd signed strong one-year deals worth $12MM and $10MM, respectively, despite injury concerns for both of them. If starters continue to be highly valued by clubs this winter, it wouldn’t be a shock if Taillon does indeed surpass projections.