MLB Rumors: Latest Trade Buzz on Taijuan Walker, Mariners Ahead of Deadline

Martin FennContributor IIIAugust 21, 2020

Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Taijuan Walker claps his hands as he heads off the mound after throwing in the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

The upcoming MLB trade deadline might not have quite as much drama as in previous years.

It is unlikely there will be any last-minute plays for an ace, as was the case when the Houston Astros acquired right-hander Zack Greinke from the Arizona Diamondbacks last season. Nor does it seem very likely a positional star like Nolan Arenado will change clubs, particularly given the Colorado Rockies are currently in contention.

But there is a particular group of teams who could be looking to sell expiring contracts or veteran players. The Seattle Mariners are among these clubs. 

Seattle has a few different players it might be looking to sell prior to the Aug. 31 deadline, including veteran second baseman Dee Gordon.

Gordon is no longer a regular. He is hitting just .119 with a .339 OPS in 42 at-bats. But Gordon can still steal bases, and speed might be at a premium at the deadline. The 32-year-old has a club option for next year with just a $1 million buyout, per Baseball Reference. It is possible a team gambles on Gordon in the hopes he can play some defense and take extra bases in the later innings.

Third baseman Kyle Seager is another name to watch. The 32-year-old is off to a hot start, slashing .303/.396/.528 with a 159 OPS+ and four homers prior to going 1-for-4 and hitting another homer on Thursday night against the Los Angeles Dodgers

Seager is owed $18.5 million next season and has a $15 million club option for 2022. That might seem expensive given his track record, but his production has been tremendous since last year's All-Star break.

However, the most intriguing player on the M's might be right-hander Taijuan Walker. According to Jon Morosi of MLB.com, he is "drawing trade interest" and is also owed less than $400,000 (pro-rated) in the month of September and will be a free agent this offseason.

The 28-year-old has dealt with some health issues in recent years, but he has also put together a pair of tremendous outings in his last two times on the bump.

Walker threw six scoreless innings against the Texas Rangers last Wednesday, then followed that by tossing seven quality innings and striking out eight this past Wednesday against a prolific Los Angeles Dodgers lineup.

There are certainly concerns. Walker has traditionally been prone to the long ball, and he served up a trio to the Dodgers. Walker ranks in just the 43rd percentile in terms of average exit velocity, per Baseball Savant, and his whiff rate is in just the ninth percentile. 

That said, Walker does not get barreled up too often (86th percentile), and—despite the low whiff rate—he is averaging 8.2 strikeouts per nine innings for his career.

Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times suggested the Mariners might choose to keep Walker and try to re-sign him in the offseason. But he also noted the M's should see what kind of haul they can get given he is on an expiring deal and is not guaranteed to return to Seattle.

It remains to be seen just how many starting pitchers will be available on the market. Walker might be seen as a guy who could help a team now or—given his age—something of a honing project for the future.

The Mariners might be able to pit multiple teams against one another in a bidding war, which could potentially land them a prospect capable of contributing to a contender in the future. If they can do that, Walker might be on the move before the start of September. 


All stats and contract information obtained via Baseball Reference, unless otherwise noted.