On Monday morning, it was reported that the Yankees signed infielder Neil Walker to a one-year, $5 million contract. Marc Carig of The Athletic reports that the Yankees were the only team to make Walker an offer this offseason. Presumably, Carig means a major league offer as the Royals offered Walker a minor league deal and he understandably turned it down.
That detail comes as quite a surprise. Walker is 32 years old and has battled injuries over the last two years, but he’s one of the better-hitting infielders around and provides a lot of versatility with the ability to play second base as well as first and third base. That no team felt it could use Walker enough to not even bother making an offer is mind-boggling.
Last season, between the Mets and Brewers, Walker hit .265/.362/.439 with 14 home runs, 49 RBI, and 59 runs scored in 448 plate appearances. He missed about six weeks last summer dealing with a back injury. The Brewers, knowingly acquiring Walker with his back issue, enjoyed the .843 OPS he posted in 38 games between mid-August and the end of the season.
Everyone has been tiptoeing around the word “collusion” with all of the talk about labor issues over the last few months. This isn’t, by itself, evidence of collusion, but it sure is a red flag.