Red Sox Free Agent Target: Taijuan Walkerby Jamie Gatlin December 1, 2020 0 comments
After a disappointing 2020 campaign, the Boston Red Sox are expected to be busy this offseason. Their primary focus will be the pitching staff, which recorded an ERA of 5.58 last season. Fortunately for the Red Sox, there are many options available with Opening Day still months away. While Boston has been connected to Trevor Bauer, he is expected to land a large deal. Boston could instead target Taijuan Walker, who is coming off a solid 2020 campaign.
In 11 starts between Toronto and Seattle, last season Walker had a 2.70 ERA. He also struck out 50 batters in 53.1 innings of work. After being traded to Toronto in August he had perhaps the best stretch of his career in six starts, recording a 1.37 ERA. After battling injuries the two previous seasons, he was able to stay healthy in a shortened 2020 season.
Taijuan Walker’s splitter on repeat 👀 pic.twitter.com/tWyoUfPJrM
— Danny Vietti (@DannyVietti) February 12, 2020
Additionally, Walker held batters to a .214 average this past season, the lowest of his career. In four September starts, the California native had a 1.77 ERA and allowed just three home runs. After being traded to Toronto, Walker limited the longball after allowing five in his first five appearances. In Walker’s final three starts, he also showed improved control as he only walked two batters.
What Walker Brings
Walker could be a strong fit at the back of the rotation in Boston. The Red Sox have an open spot as Martin Perez is currently a free agent and the former Blue Jay would not command a huge deal. While he has some upside, he does also come with health concerns as he has never topped 170 innings in a season. In 2021, quality innings will be critical due to the uncertainty surrounding Chris Sale and Eduardo Rodriguez after they missed all of 2020.
As Chaim Bloom looks to improve this roster, he will need more than just one starter. As the Red Sox learned last season, injuries can strike at any time, and their lack of depth was a major reason for their struggles. Even if Walker shows some regression, he would be an upgrade over what they had this past season.
— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) September 2, 2017
Staying healthy is Walker’s biggest question mark. However, he would not need to be the ace in Boston, which alleviates some of the pressure. He also has experience pitching in the AL East, which will be important as Boston tries to return to the postseason for the first time since 2018.
While the pitcher does come with some risk, he would only require a one or two-year deal. The Red Sox could also add a club option as he tries to repeat his strong finish in 2020. Regardless of where Walker signs, the Red Sox will be very active in the pitching market in the coming months.