Yankees: It’s time to cut losses with Neil Walker and get Tyler Austin back at first base

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 17: Neil Walker
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 17: Neil Walker /

Yankees GM Brian Cashman has a big ego, and deservedly so after what he has accomplished in his career, especially in the last three years. Now it’s time to swallow the mistake of Neil Walker and get Tyler Austin back on the field.

When Yankees GM Brian Cashman signed Neil Walker preseason for just $4.5 million, I lauded the signing as a genius move and even wrote an article about it.

Walker, at that time, seemed like the perfect fit with Tyler Wade, who is back at AAA, and a great backup option at 1B for then healthy Greg Bird. Things change quickly in baseball. Bird once again didn’t make it out of spring training and Tyler Austin got his chance. Austin has been everything the Yankees expected from Bird offensively and even more defensively.

Walker, however, in 22 games has a negative WAR-.8, a dismal OPB of .233 and OPS of .428. He’s batting .171. with zero home runs and just 7 RBI. Up until his RBI single in the series finale against the Houston Astros, he has been a rally killer.

Tyler Austin has played in 19 games due to a four-game suspension and holds a WAR .6, an OPB .329, OPS .894 and a batting average of .261 with 5 HR and 16 RBI. These numbers are after he went 0-7 in Houston before bruising his hip on a sterling defensive play that kept Luis Severino’s shutout intact.

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His recent struggles at the plate could be due to not playing for five days and the fact that his at-bats came against Houston aces Morton and Verlander.  Austin was shut down along with all the other Yankee bats in their respective outings.

The Yankees need Austin because he’s proved he belongs and I do believe that Brandon Drury is also capable of playing first base when needed until the Bombers decide his future.

Walker might turn it around,  but the Yanks don’t have the time or space to wait. There is a roster crunch with Brandon Drury’s imminent return and right now Walker is just taking up space. Bird could be back in 3-4 weeks and Clint Frazier is also pounding on the door.

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I hope Brian Cashman can put aside his ego and do the right thing. However difficult it may be he should trade Walker for anything he can get just to dump all or part of his salary. In the absence of a trade, Cash should just release him just as he did with Chris Carter.