Mariners starter Taijuan Walker has been moved up to Triple-A Tacoma to make one more rehab start, reports Bob Dutton of the News Tribune. Walker is taking the Blake Beavan’s spot in Tacoma’s rotation, as the Mariners tabbed Beavan to fill in for the injured James Paxton in the big league rotation. Beavan will start Tuesday against the Rangers.
Walker has made two rehab starts to date. In his first, on April 4 at Single-A, he allowed two runs (one earned) in 4 1/3 innings, striking out seven and walking one. In his second, on April 9 at Double-A, Walker allowed no runs on three hits and a walk while striking out ten in five innings.
While Walker has had good results, manager Lloyd McClendon wants his pitcher to get stronger:
“He needs to continue to get stronger,” McClendon said. “He needs to continue to command all of his pitches. He’s progressing well. We’re very pleased with where he is at this point.
“We just need to get that pitch count up, that pitchability up a little more.”
Ken Rosenthal reports that the San Francisco Giants are close to a deal with closer Mark Melancon.
Melancon had an outstanding 2016, posting a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and a 5.42 K/BB rate in 71.1 innings while saving 47 games for the Pirates and Nationals. You may recall that the Giants had a strong interest in Melancon last summer. It was a well-founded interest given the bullpen woes which waylaid San Francisco in the second half of last season and continued on into the playoffs.
The terms of the apparently impeding deal will be known soon enough, but Rosenthal reported yesterday that Melancon was fielding offers in the four-years, $60 million range. That’s a lot for a closer, but it’ll probably look like a bargain compared to the deals signed with the other two top closers on the market, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Some have speculated that Chapman could get a deal closer to $100 million than $50 million, though that seems optimistic.
What the past couple of seasons have shown, however, is that having a top bullpen will get you very, very far in Major League Baseball. Champan may have been gassed at the end of Game 7, but he was essential to the Cubs’ World Series title. Powerful bullpens gave the Royals a title in 2015 and the Indians an AL pennant this past year. A weak one was, obviously, the Giants’ achilles heel.
Their great need at the back end of the pen, according to Rosenthal’s report, is apparently about to be filled.
Buster Olney of ESPN reports that the Blue Jays have signed Steve Pearce to a two-year deal worth $12.5 million.
Pearce, 33 had some health issues in 2016, but he hit .288/.374/.492 across 302 plate appearances when he was on the field and he mashes lefties in particular. Pearce is versatile as well, logging time at first base, second base, right field, left field, and DH in 2016 while splitting time between the Rays and Orioles.