MLB Baseball

Walker guaranteed $23M over 3 years by Mets; Pillar $5M

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File)

NEW YORK (AP) Taijuan Walker is guaranteed $23 million over three seasons in his contract with the New York Mets and would get $25.5 million if he pitches at least 175 innings in 2022.

Veteran outfielder Kevin Pillar is guaranteed $5 million as part of his deal, which includes player and team options for 2022.

Walker gets a $2 million signing bonus payable on April 1 and salaries of $8 million this season and $7 million in 2022 as part of the deal announced Saturday.

His agreement includes a $6 million player option for 2023 with a $3 million buyout, and the option price can increase to as much as $8.5 million based on innings in 2022: $250,000 each for 125 and 135, and $500,000 apiece for 145, 155, 165 and 175.

He would receive a one-time assignment bonus if traded, payable by the acquiring team.

Walker also has award bonuses of $50,000 each for All-Star, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger or League Championship Series MVP and $100,000 for World Series MVP. He would get $50,000 for winning a Cy Young Award, $25,000 for finishing second in the voting and $10,000 for third.

The 28-year-old Walker joins a rotation headed by two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom. New York's need for a pitcher increased with the loss of versatile right-hander Seth Lugo, who will miss the start of the season following elbow surgery Tuesday to remove a bone spur.

New owner Steven Cohen has displayed a willingness to spend, retaining Marcus Stroman with an $18.9 million qualifying offer and acquiring fellow starter Carlos Carrasco from Cleveland in a trade along with All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor for a rotation also projected to include lefty David Peterson.

Walker has a five-pitch repertoire with a 93 mph fastball mixed among sliders, split-finger fastballs, sinkers and curveballs.

He was 4-3 with a 2.70 ERA over 11 starts during the pandemic-shortened season for Seattle and Toronto, which acquired him Aug. 27 for a player to be named, who became outfield prospect Alberto Rodriguez.

Walker earned $740,741 in prorated pay from a $2 million salary last year and $374,620 in bonuses for $1,115,361 in total income.

Pillar gets a $3.6 million salary this year, and the deal includes a $2.9 million player option for 2022 with no buyout. If Pillar declines the option, the Mets would have a $6.4 million team option with a $1.4 million buyout.

The 32-year-old Pillar provides a proven center fielder and experienced right-handed hitter to potentially platoon with Brandon Nimmo. All three of New York's projected regulars in the outfield bat left-handed: Nimmo, right fielder Michael Conforto and left fielder Dominic Smith.

Pillar joins Albert Almora Jr. as right-handed-hitting options on the bench or in part-time roles.

Pillar split last season between Boston and Colorado, hitting a combined .288 with six home runs and 26 RBIs in 54 games. He batted .342 with a .969 OPS against left-handed pitching.

The durable Pillar spent six-plus years with Toronto and also has played for San Francisco during his eight-year career, batting .262 with 82 homers, 88 stolen bases and a .299 on-base percentage. He is a .286 career hitter with a .784 OPS against lefties and was a Gold Glove finalist each season from 2015-17.

Pillar earned $1,574,074 in prorated pay from a $4.25 million salary last year.

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Updated February 22, 2021

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