Walker joins Jacob deGrom, Carlos Carrasco and Marcus Stroman in the Mets rotation. Noah Syndergaard is due to return from injury during the 2021 season. New York has one of the best rotations in baseball, and arguably the best rotation in the National League East.
Walker isn’t Trevor Bauer, nor is he Jake Odorizzi. He’s still a good pitcher, though, and a pitcher who posted a 2.70 ERA in 2020. When healthy, he has been above average throughout his career. Walker is a 108 ERA+ guy, and in his last full, healthy season, he was 135 in that category.
This signing fits with the Mets’ moves this offseason. They might have disappointed some by missing out on the big ticket free agents, but they have prioritized depth. Walker, Joey Lucchesi and Carrasco do not rival deGrom for ace status. Walker’s injury history makes him a bit of a risk. The Mets have built a deep rotation this offseason, a stable of six or seven potential starters.
Only the Padres and Dodgers project for more pitcher WAR than the Mets. DeGrom is a big part of that, but it’s also a nod to how many average-or-better guys they have. This hasn’t always been the case in New York. Back in 2018, the Mets gave 62 starts to Steven Matz, Corey Oswalt and Jason Vargas. They were all below league-average by ERA+.
Matz has been traded away. Vargas is without a team. Oswalt is a long way from the rotation. The Mets’ rotation might not have seemed like a weakpoint with deGrom, Stroman and Syndergaard, but the depth was a problem. Walker, along with the bargain Carrasco deal, has helped address that issue.
Walker won’t have his number retired at Citi Field. His injury issues could resurface, limiting his Mets career. For now, though, this looks like a good addition, and a signing which puts the Mets’ rotation clear of the Braves and Nationals.