The Toronto Blue Jays could potentially have two open spots in their starting rotation next season, perhaps, the time is now to engage Taijuan Walker in extension talks.
There is a possibility that the Blue Jays lose both Matt Shoemaker and Chase Anderson to free agency this offseason. Anderson has a $9.5 million team option for 2021 so the decision to keep him in the fold remains with the team.
The brain trust should focus their efforts on locking up newly acquired right-hander Taijuan Walker with the funds they have allocated for Anderson and Shoemaker’s replacement. The 28-year old appears healthy and poised to put his injury troubles behind him.
Walker was a 1st round selection of the Seattle Mariners in 2010 making his MLB debut as a highly touted prospect in 2013. The hurler only tossed 14 combined innings between 2018/19 due to injuries, however, he still possesses tons of upside.
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A potential rotation of Hyun Jin Ryu, Nate Pearson, Taijuan Walker, Julian Merryweather, and one of Trent Thornton/Tanner Roark or Ryan Borucki is something to get excited about. It is speculated that the Mariners will attempt to bring Walker back to Seattle, however, the Blue Jays may be an easier sell if they reach the postseason in the coming weeks.
Prior to last night’s start, Waker sports a respectable 3.95 career earned run average with an 8.2 SO/9 rate and a 5.9 WAR in 102 games.
After watching Waker twirl six shutout innings in his Blue Jays debut, it is very obvious he is not the type of pitcher who is fazed by the bright lights or the big moment. Walker held himself accountable on the bump coupled with an air of confidence about himself. This is the type of guy you want to hand the ball to in a big game for your club.
According to Jim Bowden of The Athletic, the team will surrender a prospect who is currently ranked in their Top 30 organizational rankings but not on their 60-man roster. Somewhat of a steep price to pay if the team is going to just let him walk in a month.
The Blue Jays should engage Walker and his camp now about an extension and see if they can make the numbers work before the conclusion of the season. He would be an exciting addition to the 2021 rotation and beyond.