Padres predicted to sign 2021 All-Star pitcher in free agency
The San Diego Padres made a statement to kick off the offseason by re-signing reliever/starter Robert Suarez to a five-year contract worth a reported $46 million.
Some will argue the Padres overpaid, but Suarez compiled a 2.27 ERA with 61 strikeouts over 47.2 innings in the regular season. He established himself as one of the club’s most valuable arms, and could become San Diego’s closer of the future with the incumbent Josh Hader’s contract expiring after next season.
Starting free agency off with a bang has fans excited for other moves general manager A.J. Preller is cooking up on the drawing board. While left field (if Jurickson Profar leaves) and first base stick out as obvious needs, the pitching staff is still leaking oil despite rewarding Suarez with a lucrative contract.
Bleacher Report recently gave the Friars the third-best odds to sign superstar Jacob deGrom, who appears incentivized to ditch Queens. While deGrom would be a dream signing (at the right price, given his recent injury history), might Preller and the Padres pursue another Mets free agent?
In a recent article, MLB Trade Rumors predicted San Diego to land starter Taijuan Walker in the form of a four-year, $52 million deal.
MLB Trade Rumors predicts the Padres will sign starter Taijuan Walker in free agency.
There’s a lot to like about the idea of signing Walker. The Padres’ top of the rotation is locked and loaded with Yu Darvish, Blake Snell and Joe Musgrove. Slotting Walker in as the fourth starter would give Bob Melvin one of the deepest rotations in the league.
The start of Walker’s career was hampered by injuries, but he enjoyed a renaissance in Queens the last two seasons, culminating in an All-Star appearance in 2021.
With the Mets, Walker started 58 games, pitching to a 3.98 ERA in nearly 320 innings. He pitches to contact and is vulnerable against upper-echelon lineups, but his 21.5% strikeout rate, 7.8% walk rate and nearly 44% ground-ball rate are all appealing numbers for a likely fourth starter.
Walker’s done well to shed the injury-prone label that followed him earlier in his career, making 69 of a possible 74-76 starts over the last three seasons. He’s only averaged 5.1 innings per start during that span, but that can be attributed to the Mariners and Mets managing his workload more than anything else.
After all, Walker’s limited opposing batters to a .232/.303/.391 slash line the third time through the order over that time.
The Mets didn’t issue Walker a $19.65 million qualifying offer. All told, Walker might’ve declined to cash in on the open market anyway, and the Padres appear well-positioned to lure the 30-year-old righty to the west coast.
What say you, Padres fans? Are you open to handing New York another loss after San Diego upset the 101-win club in the playoffs?