Yankees surprise baseball world, sign infielder Neil Walker
Neil Walker was seemingly out of the race to sign the with Yankees after they traded for infielder Brandon Drury, until the Yanks surprised the baseball world.
After Yankees third baseman Miguel Andujar got off to a blazing start, there was speculation that Brandon Drury would slide over to second base and Andujar would begin the regular season at third. However, since his first few games, Andujar has cooled off considerably.
The Yanks’ options at second base also haven’t been showing much. Gleyber Torres has yet to shake off his rust following Tommy John surgery on his non-throwing arm. Tyler Wade has not produced much offensively and has struggled on defense.
While Ronald Torreyes has a high batting average, the Yankees know that Torreyes’ lack of power and a low walk rate don’t make him an attractive starter.
Walker has been a consistent producer over the nine years he’s played
Since his first full season in the major leagues, Walker has posted an above average OPS+ of at least 100 each year.
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Even last season hampered by injury, Walker posted an OPS+ of 111 consistent with his career average of 113. Before 2017, Walker had consistently posted a WAR better than two before his injury-shortened ’17 campaign in which he posted a WAR of 1.5.
The Yankees hope that Walker can come back from injury to provide a fantastic, if not amazing campaign.
In the past, a player of Walker’s caliber would get multiple years for at least $10 million. However, for one-year and only at $5 million, this may have been a deal the Yankees could not pass up.
From a position of generally low offense, an above average bat could be a huge help to the Yanks. Throw in a solid glove, and you have a consistent veteran that can help this team.
While the Yankees’ acquisitions of Drury and Walker make it seem like they are shying away from starting their youngsters, Walker’s tendency to get injured could open up a spot for either of Andujar or Torres somewhere down the line.
With a World Series Championship on the Yankees’ agenda, the club wants as much consistency as possible in their lineup. Adding Walker takes away a fair share of uncertainty from this current defensive alignment and batting order.
This may be why the Yanks signed Walker even though many within the organization may have thought that Torres would be ready to begin the season.
However, the alternate option is more intriguing. The entire offseason, the Yankees made it known that they are interested in trading for a starting pitcher. Perhaps, this signing indicates that the Yanks are on the verge of trading for a shooter. A deal that could include the likes of Miguel Andujar or Tyler Wade.
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Walker’s signing could be a hint as to what’s coming in the future, or it could be the Yanks’ attempt to add consistency to their lineup. Either way, Walker’s addition makes for an even more exciting 2018 season.