Yankees: Is Neil Walker another rabbit out of Cashman’s hat?
The Yankees signed Neil Walker, a proven veteran infielder, to a one-year discounted contract, but can he stay healthy? That’s Brian Cashman’s latest gamble.
It had to be a plan. Just a short time ago, I was surprised that the Yankees signed first baseman Adam Lind, to a minor league contract. After all, he is a proven veteran with great stats. Surely Lind could do better elsewhere.
There must have been conditional promises to him and therefore, the opt-out possibility before the season begins. Now I know that Lind was just an insurance policy.
I firmly believe general manager Brian Cashman was already close to getting Neil Walker, who made $17 million-plus with the Mets last year only to sign for $5 million now — surely a feat no one could have predicted.
Just a month ago, we were all talking about potential signing Walker, Todd Frazier or Mike Moustakas at between $10-15 million. Now Lind looks expendable even though I’m sure he will land on another major league team, hopefully in the NL because he’s a dangerous hitter the Yankees don’t need to face.
Walker is as injury prone as Greg Bird. The former Pirate turned Met turned Brewer hasn’t been able to take the field without injury the last two years, playing about 110 games per seasons.
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However, he did hit better than .270 and post an OPS well over .800 during the times he was healthy, numbers very similar to his career average.
Walker hit 32 home runs with the Mets in pitcher-friendly Citi-field. Yankee Stadium is very much a hitters ballpark. How will that translate for the Yanks?
I am certain that Cashman signed this guy just to platoon with another young and less experienced Yankee infielder. To me, Walker seems like the perfect fit to share the job at second base with Tyler Wade, and also to back up Bird at first.
What a coup for Cashman — if Walker stays healthy.
I fully expect Walker to put up better all-around offensive numbers in the Bronx while bringing veteran leadership and playoff experience from his years with the Pirates.
I don’t think the Yanks will overuse Walker and thus try to keep his back problems in check as he brings the final piece to the Bombers infield puzzle for a minimal price and still leaves room to acquire a pitching rental later in the season if needed.
Next: What does Neil Walker mean for 25-man roster?
I do believe Cashman pulled the proverbial rabbit from his hat with this deal and we will all laud him later. So take a look at the feature picture and imagine it in pinstripes.