Mets reportedly looking to add Taijuan Walker to rotation after losing out on Trevor Rosenthal for bullpen

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Boston Red Sox
Free agent hurler Taijuan Walker, formerly of the Toronto Blue Jays, could give the New York Mets a further boost in their starting rotation.
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Mets lost out on strengthening their bullpen Thursday when free agent hurler Trevor Rosenthal inked a one-year, $11 million deal with the Oakland Athletics, according to published reports.

The Mets had looked to add Rosenthal to their bullpen coming off a comeback season for the 30-year-old right-hander, who split the abbreviated 2020 season with the Kansas City Royals and San Diego Padres. He recorded a 3.29 ERA and notched seven saves in as many opportunities for the Royals, before winning his lone decision and collecting four saves with the Padres.

Adding Rosenthal would have further reinforced a high-powered Mets relief staff just days after the team announced Seth Lugo would undergo surgery to remove bone spurs from his right elbow, and would likely be out until mid-May. 

Entering the first week of spring training, the Mets appear to be shifting gears toward boosting the starting rotation. Andy Martino of SNY reported that the Amazin’s are showing “serious interest” in bringing in Taijuan Walker to help round out the rotation.

Walker had a stellar 2020 season split between the Seattle Mariners and the Toronto Blue Jays, who acquired him before the trade deadline en route to making the expanded postseason in the pandemic-shortened season. 

It was one of Walker’s best seasons in the big leagues to date; the 28-year-old right-hander went 4-3 with a 2.70 ERA, striking out 50 batters in 53 1/3 innings and compiling a stellar 1.13 WHIP (walks and hits in innings pitched). 

If signed, Walker would project to be the Mets’ fourth starter in a solid rotation led by two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom; newly-acquired Carlos Carrasco; Marcus Stroman, whom the Mets brought back on a one-year qualifying offer; and left-hander Joey Lucchesi, picked up in a trade with the San Diego Padres. 

The Mets also have Noah Syndergaard looming as he continues recovering from Tommy John surgery in 2020. If all goes well, he could be back in the starting rotation mix by June.

As for the bullpen, the staff as it is has potential, but also a track record of inconsistency.

Closer Edwin Diaz, who had garnered the wrath of Met fans for his propensity of blown saves in 2019, rebounded nicely in 2020, getting 6 saves and compiling a 2-1 record with a 1.75 ERA and 50 strikeouts in just 25 2/3 innings pitched.

The Mets also brought back Dellin Betances and Jeurys Familia, both of whom disappointed in 2020 but have a track record of prior success.

Newly-acquired right-hander Trevor May, from the Minnesota Twins, and lefty Aaron Loup, formerly of the Tampa Bay Rays, are tasked with further bolstering the pen in the middle innings. 

With Rosenthal off the board and pitchers and catchers reporting for the preseason, the free agent market is quickly thinning. The Mets are running out of viable options to strengthen their bullpen without having to make a trade.

One option could be Shane Greene, who was part of the 2020 Atlanta Braves staff and formerly pitched for the New York Yankees back in 2014. The 32-year-old right-hander doesn’t provide the firepower of other pitchers (21 strikeouts in 27 2/3 innings in 2020), but he was no less effective for the defending Eastern Division Champion Braves, pitching to a 2.60 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP. 

Greene also has late-inning experience, having previously closed games for the Detroit Tigers as recently as 2019.

With Reuters reporting.