Yankees Trade Rumors: Taijuan Walker Targeted by NY Ahead of 2020 Deadline

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 25, 2020

Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Taijuan Walker throws against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the second inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

The New York Yankees have reportedly "checked in" with the Seattle Mariners about starting pitcher Taijuan Walker ahead of Monday's 2020 MLB trade deadline.

Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com reported the news Tuesday and noted the club's general managers, the Yanks' Brian Cashman and M's Jerry Dipoto, have made eight trades since late 2015, showcasing a working relationship that could come in handy as New York attempts to bolster its rotation.

Walker has endured an up-and-down start to the shortened 2020 season. He's posted two scoreless outings, two poor outings and one middling performance through five starts. His numbers stand at a 4.00 ERA and 1.07 WHIP, with 25 strikeouts in 27 innings.

Seattle manager Scott Servais praised the right-hander after he helped lead the team to a 6-4 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers last Wednesday.

"They were sitting on his fastball," Servais said. "That's the maturity of Taijuan Walker. The last time he was a Mariner here a few years ago, he couldn't have made that adjustment mid-game. He's learned. He went to some changeups, two-seamers, a lot of curveballs and got the cutter going. It really slowed them down."

The 28-year-old Louisiana native made just four combined starts over the past two years with the Arizona Diamondbacks because of Tommy John surgery.

His last full season came in 2017 when he compiled a solid 3.49 ERA in 28 starts for the D-backs.

He'd spent the first four years of his career with the Mariners and returned to the organization in February on a one-year, $2 million contract. He'll be a free agent in the offseason, making him a high-upside rental target for a contending team.

In all, Walker owns a 3.95 career ERA with an 8.2 K/9 rate in 102 career appearances.

The former highly touted prospect would be a welcome addition to a Yankees club seeking rotation depth behind Gerrit Cole and Masahiro Tanaka. Luis Severino (Tommy John) and James Paxton (elbow), who was acquired from the Mariners in a November 2018 trade, are both sidelined by injuries.

New York is a virtual lock to make the playoffs (99.2 percent, per FanGraphs), but the offseason addition of Cole really turned it into a championship-or-bust season for the storied franchise.

Adding Walker would give the Yanks another starter for the regular season and, should they be closer to full strength for the playoffs, his stuff could make him a high-leverage reliever.

They'll likely have competition for him on the trade market, though.