MLB rumors: Blue Jays maintain interest in Taijuan Walker, James Paxton

We are fast approaching the start of spring training, and almost all of the big-name free agents are spoken for. That said, it’s still the offseason, and that means rumors can be found. We have found them and rounded them up for Saturday. Here they are:

Blue Jays still after pitching

The Blue Jays have had an active winter, adding George Springer, Marcus Semien, and a number of veteran arms to their pitching staff, including left-hander Steven Matz. Yet Toronto might not be done tweaking its rotation between now and the start of spring training.

According to FanSided’s Robert Murray, the Blue Jays have remained in touch with both Taijuan Walker and James Paxton. It’s unclear how much Walker is seeking in a contract, but Paxton is reportedly hopeful to land $11 million. Logic dictates Walker is the likelier target.

Walker, of course, finished last season with the Blue Jays after a midseason trade from the Mariners. In 11 starts overall, he posted a 2.70 ERA (161 ERA+) and a 2.63 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He entered the offseason ranked by CBS Sports as the 28th best free agent. Here’s what we wrote at the time:

Walker missed almost the entirety of the 2018 and 2019 seasons, meaning his 11-game stint this past season (split between Seattle and Buffalo, uh … Toronto) represented his first real opportunity to demonstrate the effectiveness of his reworked arm action. He made the most of the chance, averaging five innings per pop while accumulating a 2.70 ERA and a 2.63 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Walker’s fastball clocked in around 93 mph and remained his best bat-missing weapon, as it evaded lumber 23 percent of the time — or, for comparison’s sake, about as frequently as the heaters thrown by Tyler Glasnow, Max Fried, and Mike Clevinger. He doesn’t have another big-time bat misser in his arsenal, but he does have the willingness to throw most of his other pitches, especially his splitter and curve, to lefties and righties alike. While that doesn’t sound like much, it does give him the ability to show each individual batter three or four looks. Provided he stays healthy, he should slot in as someone’s fourth starter. 

The Blue Jays are currently projected to field a rotation of Hyun-jin Ryu, Robbie Ray, Nate Pearson, Tanner Roark, and Matz.

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