Zduriencik: ‘I have no intention of trading Taijuan’
While one of the prime rumors circulating prior to the Winter Meetings involved the Mariners interest in potentially trading top young pitching prospect Taijuan Walker in a package for Rays ace David Price, general manager Jack Zduriencik dashed that thought on Monday afternoon.
Meeting with Mariners reporters in his hotel suite at the Walt Disney Swan & Dolphin Resort in Lake Buena Vista., Fla., Zduriencik said Walker wasn’t going anywhere.
“I don’t have intentions of trading Taijuan,” Zduriencik said. “You listen to any opportunities that present themselves and you go into discussions with a lot of people. And his name will come up. Why wouldn’t it? As do a lot of our guys, quite frankly. But Taijuan is high profile because he’s rated our top prospect. So if I was a club out there, why wouldn’t I ask about Taijuan Walker? That would be a smart thing to do because you never know where it’s going to take you. But I have no intentions of trading him.”
Walker has a strong chance of landing a job in the Mariners rotation this spring after making three starts last September for Seattle. The 21-year-old is under team control for six more years and is regarded as the fourth-highest rated prospect in baseball by MLB.com.
Price, 28, was the 2012 American League Cy Young Award winner and is a three-time All-Star, but the Rays will want a huge return of young talent in any trade. Price has two years of arbitration eligibility remaining for the Rays and figures to make about $13 million this season and more in 2015 before becoming a free agent.
The Mariners would like to add another starting pitcher to their rotation, which already includes All-Stars Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma. But if they traded Walker, then they’d still need to add another pitcher since Walker figures as part of the rotation this year as well.
The notion of dealing six years of control of the up-and-coming Walker — as well as likely more young talent — for two years of Price was a worthy baseball debate, but now appears to be a moot point. It’s doubtful the Mariners have enough other premier prospects to lure Price and the Rays are under no pressure to make a hasty deal since he still has two years on his contract.