UPDATE: The deal is now official, and GM Brian Cashman tells reporters, including YES Network’s Jack Curry, that the deal is for $4 million with another $500K possible via incentives.
The Yankees have agreed to a deal with second baseman Neil Walker, according to a tweet from Yahoo Sports's Jeff Passan. It’s a one-year deal for about $5 million, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. The contract is still pending a physical, Passan notes.
Walker’s long free-agent saga finally ends, as the switch-hitter will take his talents to the Bronx for the upcoming season. In 111 games with the Mets and Brewers last season, Walker slashed a solid .265/.362/.439 with fourteen home runs and an excellent 77/55 K/BB ratio. Walker had been exclusively a second baseman (save for nine games at third base in his rookie season) for the entirety of his career until 2017, where he played four more games at third along with seventeen games at first.
That newfound versatility should serve to help the Yankees, who have third base prospect Miguel Andujar and middle infield prospect Gleyber Torres on the cusp of the majors. When either or both are ready, Walker can simply be shifted around the infield as a utility player, along with the recently-acquired Brandon Drury. Walker has been limited to 224 games over the past two seasons due to injury anyway, so it seems quite possible that the Yankees will elect to rest him fairly often to keep him fresh. Walker hits far better from the left side of the plate (.801 career OPS against right-handed pitching, .691 against lefties), so there will be very obvious matchups (Chris Sale, for example) that he simply would be best off sitting on the bench for.
The signing would appear to take away some playing time from Tyler Wade, who’s been hitting quite well this spring and had been the favorite to open the season as the stopgap for Torres. Now, it’s unclear if there will even be a roster spot for him come Opening Day, with Ronald Torreyes likely having precedence over Wade for the backup infielder job.