Yankees sign Neil Walker; what it means for 25-man roster


To the surprise of many, on Monday, the Yankees inked free agent infielder Neil Walker to a one-year deal. Here’s what the arrival of the 10-year veteran means to those already fighting for a job in camp.

Following the Yankees acquisition of Brandon Drury, raise your hand if you saw them also signing free agent Neil Walker? Sir, put your hand down, you’re lying.

But that’s what happened early Monday morning, as the Yanks came to a one-year, $5 million agreement with the 32-year-old second baseman.

Immediately, panic swept through the Twittersphere, ‘Tyler Wade must be hurt way worse.’ ‘There’s no way Gleyber Torres is making the Opening Day roster now!’ ‘What is Brain Cashman doing?!’

Everyone take a deep breath and let’s examine the Walker signing together.

Tyler Wade

First of all, from reports out of Yankees’ camp, Wade escaped major injury when he rolled over his wrist trying to make a diving play on Saturday. While it looked bad at first glance, manager Aaron Boone has already stated that Wade will play in Monday’s Grapefruit League game. So we can squash the over-exaggeration about Wade’s demise right here and now.

And another thing, for you people that continue to regurgitate the thoughts of others that Wade is no more than a utility player, may I ask you why you feel that way?

If your only explanation is that he struggled at the plate in 58 at-bats last season, please, cut it out. Not everyone is Gary Sanchez, setting the world ablaze straight from Triple-A. Most players need this little thing called consistent playing time to produce.

So if your idea is to condemn Wade to a life of defensive replacement and pinch running, you’re sadly mistaken. This kid has all the tools to be a major leaguer at a number of positions; he just needs to play to prove it to YOU. I’ve already watched Wade first hand; he’s got my trust.

Miguel Andujar

If you’re wondering why Walker’s addition at second base affects Andujar at third, it’s because the Yankees can now slide Brandon Drury to the hot corner and allow Andy more time to mature defensively at Triple-A.

The 23-year-old Andujar exploded the first 10 days of Spring Training, hitting five home runs and driving in nine runs. However, since then, Andy has come back down to Earth, as his batting average has fallen from the mid 400s to .281.

And rightfully so, Andujar is still a prospect only now getting his second taste of major league pitching.

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I know we all want to see if he can hold down the hot corner so the club doesn’t have to spend upwards of $400 million on the likes of Manny Machado next winter, but you also don’t want to stunt Andujar’s development.

His stick is major league ready, albeit, there’s likely a slump or two in all power hitters during a 162-game season. However, now Andujar doesn’t need to press, which is precisely what he’s done since becoming the talk of the town this spring.

I’ll admit, after watching him in-person on Friday night against the Braves, Andujar’s still making hard contact, just that the balls aren’t falling in, or over the fence, like they were only a short time ago.

And rather than watch the kid potentially spiral down the point of destroying his confidence, now the organization can let him know their plans, and in-turn, he can better ready himself for a midseason call-up — or in the event of a big league injury.

Gleyber Torres

Aside from a few eye-catching grabs at second base this spring, the Yankees’ No. 1 prospect hasn’t shown that he’s ready or deserving of a major league roster spot just yet. Like Andujar, Torres is trying too hard to make things happen.

The 21-year-old played in a total of 58 games in 2017 before season-ending Tommy John surgery. Obviously, he was going to be rusty coming into camp. Which is why, for me, I would have preferred if upper management would have made it clear from day one that Gleyber wasn’t going to be rushed and was going to start the new campaign back in Scranton.

Now a strong-willed competitor will need to put aside his possible reassignment to minor league camp while continuing to learn the nuances of second base.

I have no doubt he’s the Yanks’ future at the position, and perhaps Walker’s one-year deal will be the best thing that could happen to Torres. Only time will tell.

Adam Lind

The clock in ticking on Adam Lind’s time with the Bombers. Unless Greg Bird were to go down with an injury before opening day, I no longer see Lind cracking the 25-man roster — not with Walker being able to handle backup first base duties.

Not that Walker is excellent with the glove (at any position), but he can be plugged in where Lind can’t. Yes, Both left-hander’s sticks are similar regarding power, although Lind hits for a higher average.

Should Lind fail to make the club, I hope he takes the minor league option, because when it comes to Yankees’ first basemen, you never know when the job will open up.

Brandon Drury

For me, Brandon Drury makes out best of all those affected by Walker’s signing. With Walker having played a total of 1008 games in his career at second base, it’s understandable that Drury slides over to third.

Of the many infielders still in camp, Drury’s 41 games at the hot corner is second-most to Ronald Torreyes’ 63. However, Drury’s potent bat gives him first crack at third way before Toe, Danny Espinosa or Jace Peterson. The latter three infielders are most likely destined for either a minor league assignment or DFA.

Should the Yanks decide to option Wade to Triple-A to gain valuable at-bats over spending time on the big league bench, Torreyes could get the 25th and final roster spot. The possibility does remain that Torreyes would fetch a lower-level minor leaguer via trade.

Next: Gray and Sanchez primed for a big 2018


Overall, the Yankees added the veteran presence to the locker room they lost with the departure of Todd Frazier. For those that feel leadership can’t be measured in wins and losses, you’re sadly mistaken.

A young infield will lean on Walker and his professional pedigree, especially come Postseason time. Should injury befall Walker, which limited him to 111 games in ’17, or he fails to produce similarly to the way he did for the Mets and Brewers (.265 BA with 14 home runs and 49 RBI), Brian Cashman won’t hesitate to pull the plug on his latest experiment.

Hey, he did it with Chris Carter and his $3.5 million contract.