Taijuan Walker was recalled by the Seattle Mariners to start their Wednesday afternoon series finale against the New York Mets. He was somewhat effective in the loss, but proved once again that he is probably not a pitcher the Mariners can rely upon in clutch games down the stretch. Bartolo Colon, however, could be that someone. If the Mariners want to pursue a World Series title this year, it would be in the organization’s best interest to move Walker before the 2014 MLB trade deadline.
Walker possesses some nasty stuff, but he was bested today by the 41-year-old veteran Colon primarily due to having inferior mechanics. Colon was perfect through 7.2 innings for the Metropolitans, which goes to show that top rate command and experience usually trumps nasty velocity and inexperience from the pitcher’s mound.
The Mets chased Walker from the ball game after he loaded the bases before recording a single out in the sixth inning. He walked a total of six on the day and also plunked Mets SS Ruben Tejada on the lid with a 93 MPH fastball in the fifth inning.
Walker is raw, still only 21 years old with a pretty high ceiling. That’s precisely why the Mariners should move him now for a more stable contributor. Long term, Walker holds much more value to an organization than Colon would. But Colon is the the savvy kind of pitcher who can help promote a “win now” mentality in the locker room and on the field. His veteran knowledge, along with the fact that at 41 he has failed to win a World Series, would mean that winning now is more important to a player like Colon than anything else. It’s unclear right now what the market demands are to acquire a guy like Colon or if he is even truly available. The Mets have him signed next season as well for $11 million. Being that his team is 48-53 and not necessarily out of the NL playoff hunt just yet, holding onto Colon may allow the Mets to reevaluate things again at this time next year and possibly move him then.
What you get with Colon is a player who throws strikes, eats innings and does not give up many free passes. What you get with Walker is a guy who could be a front end starter — two to five years from now. If you are a team in contention as August approaches, the veteran Colon holds more value on your roster. That’s not to say the Mariners should consider a straight up Walker for Colon trade, but it certainly would not hurt to consider swapping the two in a package deal if Mets GM Sandy Alderson is so inclined.
Colon won his lone Cy Young in 2005 as a member of the AL West‘s Los Angeles Angels. He also had a successful season within the division last year as a member of the Oakland Athletics, winning 18 games and being named an All-Star for the third time in his career. The AL West as a division is one that predominantly favors pitching and strong defense inside its ball parks. The Mariners can offer someone like Colon both of those things with a strong opportunity to compete for a ring. Also worth noting is that Colon has a career ERA of 2.10 at Safeco Field, with a 12-1 record in 14 starts before entering today’s action.
If someone like Colon is not available, there are other options. David Price is still kind of on the market, and the Philadelphia Phillies are actively shopping Cliff Lee as well as Cole Hamels, to a lesser extent. If the Mariners can package Walker for any of those pitchers and a reliable right-handed bat, it would be in their best interest if they wish to remain in the AL pennant race.