Yankees add solid veteran presence to their infield with signing of Neil Walker
The odds of top prospects Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar making the Opening Day roster took another hit after the Yankees signed infielder Neil Walker to a one-year deal. Walker brings veteran leadership and depth to the suddenly crowded Yankee infield.
As for Gleyber Torres, he’ll probably start the season at Triple-A after struggling at the plate so far this spring where he’s 2 for 23. Remember he only played in 55 games last year between Double and Triple-A following Tommy John surgery on his left elbow in June. I still think we’ll see a lot of Gleyber in 2018, but it wouldn’t hurt to give him more seasoning before he eventually makes his big league debut.
One thing to keep an eye on is how this impacts the chances of Ronald Torreyes and Tyler Wade making the Opening Day roster. Wade was playing like the favorite to win the job prior to yesterday’s signing and Torreyes was excellent filling the utility role a season ago. With the addition of Walker it might lead to Toe not making this year’s club at all. It seems likely that from now until the end of camp he’ll be in battle with Wade and Tyler Austin for that final roster spot on the bench.
What does Walker bring to the team?
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First of all Walker brings nine years of big league experience with a solid .271 career average and 130 career home runs. He’s also a switch-hitter who will give the Yankees another left-handed bat with pop to face right-handed pitching. That’s a nice addition to what was previously a right-handed heavy lineup.
He’s always been a productive big league player throughout his career, but injuries have forced him to miss a combined 100 games over the past two seasons. Health will be the key once the season rolls around because there’s plenty of young talent ready to replace him if he can’t stay on the field.
In the case of any injuries he’ll also provide depth because he has played some first and third base in recent years. Although you can still expect him to get the majority of his playing time at his customary second base.
Walker joins Yankee camp pretty deep into Spring Training with only 17 days until Opening Day, but he has been working out at the MLB Player’s Association camp for free agents. He’ll have some catching up to do with at-bats once he begins to play in games, but he’s a quality veteran who should be ready for the season.
Next: Neil Walker's Impact on the roster
I’m sure we’ll have a better idea where everyone stands in battle for roster spots in the coming days and weeks, but in the meantime Yankee fans should be happy with addition of Walker. He’s an all-around quality player and veteran leader who should only make this team and this lineup better.