Taijuan Walker Should Have Received Qualifying Offer

The New York Mets gave out qualifying offers to all of their top pending free agents. That is everyone except Taijuan Walker.

Behind not giving him a qualifying offer was the probable estimation he would accept the offer. For the Mets, that was probably the best case scenario.

After picking up Carlos Carrasco’s option, the Mets only gave two of their starters from last year under contract. Somehow, they need to add three more starters, or two, if they want a Tylor Megill/David Peterson Spring Training battle for the fifth starter spot.

Overpay or not, bringing Walker back for one year was a great situation. It gives Megill and Peterson another full year to get ready to take over a spot. It also gives more time to prospects like Matt Allan, Dominic Hamel, and Calvin Ziegler.

More than that, with Walker, the Mets were keeping a dependable starting pitcher. He’s in the top 40 in starts and innings pitched over the past two seasons. There’s incredible value in just being able to pitch every fifth day and give 5+ innings.

We can and should delve deeper than that. After all, the Mets have a lot of costly decisions to make this offseason. They really can’t just overpay. Well, Walker really isn’t an overpay.

The WAR/$ valuation model rebounded slightly last season with 1 WAR being equivalent to roughly $8.5 million. Last year, Walker had a 2.6 WAR meaning he was worth $22.1 million.

Remember, the qualifying offer is $19.65 million. Walker provided more value than that last year. He’s likely to do it again.

Walker was much stronger in the second half than he was in 2021. He’d shown himself to be healthy and durable in consecutive seasons. His splitter has increasingly become a weapon.

All that taken into account, Walker is worth a one year deal. The Mets would be better off if he accepts. They’d also be in great shape if he rejects it because they’d get compensation if he signed elsewhere.

Overall, there was nothing but upside on giving Walker the qualifying offer. Unfortunately, the Mets made an unforced effort and didn’t leaving us to at least be slightly concerned Billy Eppler is not the right person for this job.