The Seattle Mariners are somewhere in between buyers and sellers heading into the trade deadline, with Taijuan Walker stirring quite a bit of interest among other teams, especially the Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers.
Both teams aren’t done adding arms to their rotations, and have been making inquiries with the Mariners about the availability of the 24-year old reliever. The Mariners, at this point, aren’t that interested in parting ways with the right hander, more willing to trade Wade Miley, and actually hoping to include him in a deal they’re trying to make with the Angels.
But Walker might become available for the right price, which means a lot of prospects. His age (two weeks before his 24th birthday) and his contract (controllable through 2020) make him a very lucrative target, not eligible for arbitration before the end 0f the 2017 season.
And there’s ability too. Through 16 starts this season, Walker has a 3.66 ERA, throwing in 86 innings. His WHIP is at 1.140 and he’s striking out 8.4 batters per nine innings, while striking out 4.44 per walk, both the best numbers of his career. His WAR is at -0.1, so he’s still not at the level the Mariners would like him to be, but he seems to be on the right path toward being a solid part of a rotation, even if it’s in the 4-5 slots and not up top, close to the Ace role.
The Mariners have had their issues with pitching this season, especially with Felix Hernandez missing about a third of the season. The Cubs have addressed their bullpen problems with Aroldis Chapman, while the Rangers have been dealing with plenty of rotation injuries. The Cubs seem especially aggressive this July, bouncing back from a rough pre All-Star period. Adding another good piece to their rotation means that they’re seeing this year as championship or bust, throwing everything they have at it.