Zduriencik called a report that the team had soured on Walker, in part due to his decision to cut his AFL assignment short, "ridiculous," adding, "We’d have maybe liked Taijuan to pitch a little more, but he really didn’t feel he was where he needed to be to pitch for other reasons. But physically he was throwing 100 mph, he’d given us two really good starts at the end and two really good starts in the Arizona Fall League and he was at the point where he was ready to get into his offseason program.
"There was great logic after our discussions with him at the time. We knew what was going on and he’d pitched great. He had four very successful outings at the end and all that set him up for the coming year. So we’re very pleased with Taijuan Walker. This is a great, young arm, a very talented kid that is going to be a part of this for years to come."
Walker's name has come up in trade rumors this offseason, particularly connected to the team's quest to add a quality right fielder. If he remains with the Mariners organization, he's expected to compete for a rotation spot in the spring.
Upton is coming off a season in which he hit .270/.342/.491 with 29 home runs and 102 RBI over 566 at-bats. The 27-year-old is entering the final year of his contract and is expected to make $14.5 million in 2015 before becoming a free agent.
This turn of events reportedly happened before the Mariners brought Nelson Cruz into the fold, making it seem less likely that the team would acquiesce to the Dodgers' demands at this point. However, the Mariners' one big need heading into the Winter Meetings remains run-producing right fielder who can bat right-handed, and if they ultimately don't wind up signing Melky Cabrera, a Kemp trade could conceivably end up back on the table at some point this offseason.
"Taijuan is completely healthy and was very impressive in his two outings, but made a personal decision that he needed to return home at this time," general manager Jack Zduriencik said in a statement. "He will continue with his offseason program and we look forward to seeing him at spring training in February."
Walker posted a 2.00 ERA in his two AFL starts, striking out 11 and walking two in nine innings of work.
|CBSSports.com Player Ranking|
|9/28/2014 vs L.A. Angels|
|Last 7 Games|
|Complete Game Log|
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|More Pitching Stats|
|Minor League Pitching Stats|
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