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Walker round the block

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Buried in the end of Sunday's Giants Notebook, there's a mention of a trade rumor:

Tampa Bay is in the market for relievers and interested in Tyler Walker, who could be available as the Giants try to clear a bullpen logjam.
Okay. I'm curious. I have no idea what Tyler Walker could bring back in a trade. He obviously doesn't have the trade value of a veteran reliever like Danys Baez or LaTroy Hawkins. However, he'll still be a cheap bullpen fix for a couple of years. I'm skeptical of the idea that other general managers think Walker was dipped in closer's bronze last season, but his adequacy in the role definitely raised his profile.

The roster for the Giants is pretty set, with minor decisions like fifth outfielders and fifth starters all that remain. The Giants seem committed to Lance Niekro, and probably wouldn't consider Aubrey Huff's defense and salary much of an upgrade, especially after Huff's dismal year in 2005. In addition, a straight up Walker for Huff deal isn't likely what the Devil Rays have in mind.

So the return for Walker would have to be a minor-leaguer, and it wouldn't be a top prospect. As much as we can all dream about Delmon Young coming over in a deal to make us forget about Francisco Liriano, it's not going to happen. I will hold my breath regardless, as it seems like the right thing to do. Any of the top ten prospects would be a stretch. What's most likely would be a deal for:

a) A project. Not that this is a bad thing, as Merkin Valdez was a project when he came over from Atlanta.

b) A suspect, which refers to a former prospect who hasn't been able to translate tools or early professional success. Todd Linden would be a good frame of reference.

The Giants have a fair amount of bullpen depth when taking into account youngsters like Brian Wilson and Valdez, but trading Walker only because there is depth would be a mistake. Just because the Giants have some interesting bullpen arms in Fresno doesn't mean they should trade Tyler Walker for the Tyler Walker of minor league outfielders. If the Devil Rays can offer something of substance, the Giants shouldn't hesitate. I'm just not sure if I see a great match.