16. Taijuan Walker, SP
4 Years/$52 Million with the Baltimore Orioles
Taijuan Walker was drafted #43 overall in 2010 and was a highly regarded prospect, but his career was seriously affected by injury. Taijuan missed significant time due to both Tommy John surgery and shoulder surgery. Taijuan Walker made 6 phenomenal starts with the Toronto Blue Jays, producing a 1.37 ERA/4.14 FIP. Walker‘s 2.70 ERA/4.56 FIP in 53.1 innings between Toronto and the New York Mets, earned him a 2 year deal with the latter, which also included a player option for 2023, which he now declined.
Taijuan Walker has been the New York Mets’ most durable SP from 2021-2022 with a 3.98 ERA in 316 innings. He isn’t really an ace, but he’s solid enough (159.0 innings in 2021 and 157.1 in 2022), where he can be relied upon to provide solid production. In 2022, he went 12-5 with a 3.49 ERA/3.65 FIP along with 7.6 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9.
Walker isn’t a strikeout pitcher, but has good enough stuff to be a solid #3 starting pitcher. He should still get a good deal. My prediction is that at 30 years old, a 4 year deal isn’t unrealistic for him. $13 million a year is also a pretty reasonable price as well. The only question is how high the demand for him is going to be. I expect it to be pretty high to be honest.
I could see multiple teams being in the mix for him, so it’s a guessing game as to where he will actually end up. The New York Mets could very well re-sign him, but they can’t realistically keep all of their free agents. I suspect that the Baltimore Orioles will solidify their rotation by bringing him in. It’s also possible that the San Francisco Giants, Philadelphia Phillies or Texas Rangers pick him up instead. It’s going to be a busy off-season for Taijuan Walker.