The Tigers have expressed interest in free agent righty Taijuan Walker, according to Jon Morosi of MLB.com (via Twitter). While the Detroit club has an array of young pitching on hand, Morosi says the intention is to ink at least one veteran hurler.
Walker’s career has been hampered by injury issues, but he was at full health for the partial 2020 campaign. He compiled 53 1/3 innings of 2.70 ERA pitching over 11 starts.
Alas, the results look a lot better than the underlying numbers. Opposing hitters registered only a .286 wOBA but produced contact quality suggesting a much more robust .325 xwOBA (though Walker did land in the 74th percentile in hard contact rate). Fielding-independent pitching measures weren’t terribly optimistic; Walker checked in with a 4.56 FIP, 4.82 xFIP, and 4.60 SIERA. He managed only a 7.8% swinging-strike rate last year.
Suffice to say, teams considering Walker will likely not be chasing upside so much as hoping for reasonably priced, solid innings. And there’s reason to think he can serve as a useful back-of-the-rotation starter. Walker was healthy enough in 2020 to average 93.5 mph with his fastball, not far off his career average, and he won’t turn 29 until August. MLBTR graded him the 23rd-best available free agent, predicting that he’d land a two-year, $16MM contract.