The Toronto Blue Jays currently occupy the No. 8 seed in the expanded American League postseason field and they made a move Thursday to improve their chances of playing in October. The Blue Jays have acquired righty Taijuan Walker in a trade with the Seattle Mariners, the team confirmed Thursday.

Walker, 28, was enjoying a solid comeback season with the Mariners, the team that originally drafted him. He missed most of 2018 and 2019 with Tommy John surgery — Walker returned and threw one inning with the Diamondbacks last September — before being non-tendered by the D-Backs this past offseason. Seattle signed him to a one-year deal worth $2 million.

Beyond simply getting healthy, Walker has succeeded by scaling back on his four-seam fastball and throwing more cutters. That’s allowed him to post a solid strikeout rate (22.3 percent) as well as a 34.2 percent hard-hit rate, which is a tick better than league average. Walker is not doing anything exceptionally well this season, but he’s not doing anything poorly either.

The Blue Jays currently have Hyun-Jin Ryu leading a rotation that has otherwise been injured or inconsistent. Nate Pearson (elbow), Matt Shoemaker (lat), and Trent Thornton (elbow) are all on the injured list while offseason additions Chase Anderson and Tanner Roark have a combined 4.41 ERA in 36 2/3 innings. Walker is a welcome depth addition.

In return for Walker, the Mariners will receive a player to be named later, according to Rosenthal. The player is not part of Toronto’s 60-man player pool. Only players included in the 60-man player pool can be traded this season. Other players can be traded as players to be named later who are named after the season. The Mariners are likely to receive a low-level minor leaguer.

Toronto’s bullpen has been sneaky good this season even with closer Ken Giles going down with an elbow problem three weeks into the regular season. There’s always room for another quality reliever though. The Blue Jays figure to focus their remaining deadline efforts on more rotation depth and an infielder to help replace the injured Bo Bichette.

The Mariners, at 12-19, are clear deadline sellers, and the Walker trade confirms it. The club has several controllable bullpen arms to peddle to contenders (Dan Altavilla, Matt Magill, etc.) and they could try to move stalwart third baseman Kyle Seager as well. Seager’s $15 million club option for 2022 turns into a player option if traded, however, which is an obstacle.

The trade deadline is 4 p.m. ET on Monday. This is the second notable deal of the trade season after the Phillies acquired Heath Hembree and Brandon Workman in a four-player trade with the Red Sox last week.


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