The Chicago Cubs are turning over rock and boulder in order to find players to help them compete in 2020. To that end, the club gave a brief tryout to pitcher Taijuan Walker on Monday afternoon. MLB.com’s Jordan Bastion tweeted out the pitcher threw a bullpen session in front of Cubs personnel at the team’s Spring Training complex.
After the session, reporters attempted to talk to Walker but he declined to give interviews. The pitcher did say he felt the session went well, which is a bit of good news for all involved, on its own.
There was a time when Walker was one of the up and coming pitchers in Major League baseball. Injuries have derailed that once-promising career. Over the last two seasons, he’s managed just 14 innings pitched for the Arizona Diamondbacks. In 2019 he got one inning into a September 29 start before his season was over yet again.
The Chicago Cubs haven’t been shy about giving oft-injured reclamation projects a look this winter. The front office signed outfielder Steven Souza late last month. They were able to arrive at a relatively cheap contract thanks to his own injury troubles in the last few years.
Thanks to a career 3.95 earned run average, Walker has been getting attention from teams who are looking for a cheap option either out of the bullpen or in the rotation this winter. The Chicago Cubs might have some stout competition should they decide to offer him a contract.
MLB Trade Rumors reported Walker has a “standing offer” from the Seattle Mariners to return to the AL club. The Mariners are said to have offered him a one-year contract earlier this winter but the pitcher is busy weighing a number of teams who have shown interest.
The site points out there is an opening in that rotation behind Marco Gonzales, Yusei Kikuchi, and Justus Sheffield. Even with the addition of Kendall Graveman this offseason, Seattle has an opening at the fifth starter spot for Walker should he be healthy and interested.
The same likely cannot be said about the Chicago Cubs. If the team’s interest is sincere, it would seem he’d be more of an insurance policy than anything else as most analysts believe the Cubs rotation will be made up of Yu Darvish, Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester, Carlos Quintana, and Tyler Chatwood.
Before any team is going to sign him, Walker will likely have to show his velocity has returned. Bleacher Nation pointed out the former first-round pick of the Mariners was throwing between 93 and 94 MPH. However, when he threw for scouts last week, he was topping out at 88 MPH.