This one comes via Geoff Baker:
On to the Mariners, they've made their first move of 2009 and it's...well...hardly earth-shaking. Right-handed relief pitcher Tyler Walker of the Giants has just been signed by the club. If you're building a football team, he'd be a good place to start, as he's listed at 6-foot-3, 272 pounds. On the baseball side, he went 5-8 with a 4.56 ERA in 65 games last season before being non-tendered.
Earlier today, Larry Stone mentioned that Zduriencik had an offer out to a free agent - probably a reliever - and that Zduriencik was optimistic the deal would be consummated. I'm guessing that Walker, then, is said free agent.
The most notable thing about Walker is that he had Tommy John surgery in 2006, but outside of that, he's put together a decent albeit entirely underwhelming career. What I imagine Zduriencik is banking on is that Walker's able to sustain some of the improvement he showed in 2008, when he achieved career-best rates in both swinging strikes and groundballs. He used to be a pure fastball/slider guy, but he started throwing more sliders and changeups and fewer heaters last year, and it looks like that might've helped him a little bit. Not that his numbers were great or anything, but aside from the elevated HR/FB, they were acceptable for a guy you're not counting on to win you a Series.
Walker has closing experience, which gives Wakamatsu another PR-friendly option for the ninth, and his repertoire makes him an okay bet to survive the season without obscene platoon splits. With that in mind, he's an interesting addition to a bullpen that has a fair bit of talent but a lot of unknowns. I'm not quite sure how he fits into a crowded and pretty young relief corps, but if Zduriencik intends to make room for some of his current relievers in the rotation, then spaces will need to be filled, and Walker's all right. He's not likely to hurt us, and in the event that he does, he's easy to ditch. Pretty harmless little move.
Graham's Update: 1 year, $750,000. Not bad for a potentially league average reliever.