The top free agent second baseman on the market this offseason has finally found a home. The New York Yankees signed second baseman Neil Walker to a one-year, $5 Million deal on Monday. The deal will result in a massive pay cut from last year when Walker accepted the 17.5 Million qualifying offer from the New York Mets.
Neil Walker is a career .272 hitter with 130 career home runs, 1051 hits, 522 RBI, with a 20.4 WAR and 113 OPS+ (100 is league average). Walker also won a Silver Slugger Award with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2014. In 2017, Walker hit .265/.362/.439 with 14 home runs in 448 plate appearances with the New York Mets and the Milwaukee Brewers.
The New York Yankees have an open competition at second base and third base this Spring Training with frontrunners including Tyler Wade, the newly-acquired Brandon Drury, Miguel Andujar, Ronald Torreyes and top prospect Gleyber Torres. Walker will now almost certainly resume the role of the Yankees’ starting second baseman and will give Gleyber Torres, among others, time to develop.
The Bronx Bombers are taking a win now strategy and after their rebuild went way faster than planned in 2017, and they miraculously found themselves in the ALCS after breakout seasons from rookies and veterans. The Yankees will stop at nothing to bring home their 28th MLB World Series victory home in 2018 and have proved it by making big moves this offseason and even trading for star slugger Giancarlo Stanton.
Neil Walker will bring a solid bat with above average defense at second base (or even third base if needed) and will give the Bombers breathing room to allow their infield prospects, most notably Gleyber Torres, to develop. Walker will once again get a crack at free agency in the 2018-19 offseason and hopefully, for his sake, the offseason is a bit faster, and owners are more willing to pay free agents.