Taijuan Walker is a possible target in a Detroit Tigers rumor reported by Jon Morosi on Wednesday.
They need starting pitching in Motown. That’s no secret. While it’s nice to look at the prospects of the future, the present prospect is not as bright. Taijuan Walker might be the player to change that, per one of the latest Detroit Tigers rumors.
Jon Morosi of MLB.com reported on Twitter the Tigers have shown interest in the right-handed Walker, who posted a 2.70 ERA across 11 starts for the Mariners and Blue Jays in 2020.
What would Taijuan Walker bring the Detroit Tigers?
Walker had a 22.2% strikeout rate and 8.4% walk rate in the campaign, working out to more of a lackluster 4.56 FIP at Fangraphs.
Still, the Tigers could probably use the kind of veteran leadership he would bring — even if that veteran leadership does come from a player who is somehow just 28 years old still.
He went deeper than five or six innings in at least half of his starts in 2020, which would have helped save the Tigers’ bullpen a bit.
Walker has started 105 games for his career, though injuries have limited him to just three seasons of more than 20 starts.
During that time he recorded 528 strikeouts in 581 innings.
MLB Trade Rumors ranked him 23rd in their list of 2020-21 free agents, predicting a two-year, $16-million contract with the Nationals.
Why the Detroit Tigers could use Taijuan Walker
He may not be a top-tier free agent, but he remains an intriguing one. From 2012-14, the prospect rankers were ga-ga over him. He was ranked in the top 20 overall in each of those years by Baseball America, and in the top 10 in 2013-14 by both MLB Pipeline and Baseball Prospectus.
If he is healthy and can build on his 2020 season, the opportunity might be there to pick up a player still rebuilding his value at a little more of an affordable price.
And Detroit definitely needs the help at starting pitcher right now.
As a team, the Tigers had among the worst overall performances in MLB across their starting pitching contingent.
They ranked 29th of 30 teams at Fangraphs with a WAR of 0.8. Only the Red Sox (0.4) were worse and all other teams were at least above 1.
Tigers starters combined for a 6.37 ERA — that bears repeating. A 6.37 ERA. If you want to be charitable, they had a 5.53 FIP/5.03 xFIP.
Of the six pitchers who made at least four starts, only Spencer Turnbull turned in an above-average season with 3.97 ERA (3.49 FIP). You could say Jordan Zimmermann and Daniel Norris, in their three combined starts, did pretty well, too.
Matt Boyd? 6.71 ERA in 12 starts. Michael Fulmer? 8.78 in 10. Hot prospects Tarik Skubal and Casey Mize? 5.63 in eight and 6.99 in seven. But these things take time.
The question remains of just how much money the Tigers will be budgeted to spend this offseason, but this the kind of move that doesn’t break the bank and could turn out well for them.