Yankees almost signed Neil Walker before Brandon Drury trade


As if the Yankees trading for Brandon Drury wasn’t a fantastic deal already, on Tuesday, news came out that the club was close to signing free agent Neil Walker prior to acquiring Drury.

If you’ve watched the Yankees get off to a 5-0 Spring Training start, then you’re aware that the club is getting offense from just about every one manager Aaron Boone puts on the field, especially those vying for the final two available infield positions.

Of course, the sample size is still small being that we’re only now into the second week of Grapefruit League action. However, it appears that general manager Brian Cashman has assembled quite the cast of competitors, namely Brandon Drury, Miguel Andujar, Tyler Wade and Danny Espinosa.

Before the Yanks’ three-team trade with the Diamondbacks and Rays, which netted the Bombers 25-year-old utility player Brandon Drury, the team from the Bronx was in the midst of substantive talks with free agent second baseman Neil Walker.

On Tuesday, Billy Witz of the The New York Times caught up with Walker at an exhibition game for free agents in Bradenton, FL.

The series of tweets Witz released detailed just how close the Yankees came to signing Walker, the nine-year big league veteran.

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"Walker said discussions didn’t get detailed on his role, but he believed he would play mostly 2B and some 3B, and well as 1B. “My understanding is I would bounce around I was certainly willing to do that.”Walker wanted multi-yr deal and liked NYY b/c they’re contenders. “We don’t know if it was a money thing, but we thought we were fairly close until they made the trade. Whatever it was, they decided to hang on to money for midseason + felt like making a trade was more valuable.”"

While the 32-year-old Walker wouldn’t be the worst pickup for a number of clubs, at two years and $20 million, which is what MLB Trade Rumors projected he’d sign back in November, Walker would have handcuffed the Yanks to the point of irritation.

Yes, hindsight is 20/20. Which is why Brian Cashman makes these tough decisions — and you and I don’t.

Drury at a little over 600K — seven years younger and way more athletic and injury free than Walker has ever been, is a considerable coup for the Yankees. Not only do the Yanks have a healthy competition brewing in camp, but come July, the club could still have upwards of $13 million in available salary before incurring the $197 million luxury tax threshold.

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Having played a total of 224 games in the past two seasons due to a string of injuries, Walker, the former Met, may have to come off his multi-year contract demand if he wishes to hook up with a team sometime before Opening Day.