Taijuan Walker was once viewed as a ‘can’t miss’ ace starting pitcher when he was a prospect. He’s 27 years old and still a free agent with less than a week before Spring Training. Should the Milwaukee Brewers give him a look?
This wasn’t supposed to happen to Taijuan Walker. He was supposed to be the next great ace who would gobble up innings, rack up K’s, and dominate games. Walker has shown flashes, but injuries have derailed what appeared to be a very promising career. Should the Milwaukee Brewers take a flier on Walker for the 2020 season?
What happened to Walker in 2018 & 2019?
Walker has thrown exactly 14 innings, total, in the past two years. He made three starts in 2018, and tossed 13 innings. He also made one start in 2019 and threw exactly one inning.
Walker needed Tommy John surgery in April of 2018, and missed most of 2019 with a capsule strain in his right shoulder.
In his one inning return at the end of the 2019 season, Walker averaged 93.3 MPH on his fastball, so he can clearly still run the ball up to the plate in a hurry.
Has Walker thrown for scouts this off season?
Walker had a showcase in early February, and reportedly sat in the 85 MPH-to-88 MPH range on his fastball during the workout.
If that’s what he’s looking like right now, his chances at a Major League contract is very low. Walker will likely have to settle for a Minor League deal with an invite to camp and work his way back to an active roster from there.
Could Walker help the Brewers?
Walker is a lottery ticket for the 2020 season. If he gets healthy and the velocity is all the way back, he could make sense in a starting rotation or as a high-leverage reliever for a Major League team.
The Milwaukee Brewers have very few roles that are locked down at this point. If Walker is looking for an opportunity at a role on Opening Day, he could find a spot with the Brewers.
Walker is clearly holding out for a Major League deal that he’s probably not going to get. There has been reported interested from the Seattle Mariners and Minnesota Twins, but none have offered a guaranteed roster spot.
The Milwaukee Brewers would make a great landing spot for Walker given their limitations in the bullpen and at the back end of their rotation. A healthy Walker should be able to beat out Eric Yardley, Ray Black, and Angel Perdomo for a role in the bullpen, and he could push Eric Lauer and Brent Suter for the fifth starter’s role.
Walker will likely have his choice of Minor League contracts to choose from over the next week. He may get an offer from a top contender that’s too good to pass up, but if he wants a real shot at a spot on an Opening Day roster, the Brewers should be in the running.