The Yankees have agreed to a one-year, $4 million contract with free agent second baseman Neil Walker. He can earn an additional $1 million in incentives. That’s a massive pay cut for Walker, who accepted the qualifying offer from the Mets last year, paying him $17.2 million.
Walker 32, hit .265/.362/.439 with 14 home runs in 448 PA with the Mets and Brewers last season. While that was a falloff from his 2016, part of his regression can be traced back to a left hamstring strain which landed him on the disabled list for over six weeks in June. All in all he was pretty close to his career norms last year, and saw his production improve after being traded to Milwaukee in August. In nine seasons, Walker has a line of .272/.341/.437 (OPS+ 113). The switch-hitting Walker has slugged considerably higher as a lefty in the course of his career, so the short porch in right field is going to treat him pretty well.
Until this signing, the Yankees had a pretty open competition going for the second and third base slots, with some combination of Tyler Wade, the newly-acquired Brandon Drury, Miguel Andujar, Ronald Torreyes and top prospect Gleyber Torres all figuring in the mix. While the Yankees envision Torres to be the long-term solution at the keystone, Walker is more of a known quantity for a team that is on a win-now footing. Walker has also played a little third base and first base in his career, so he’ll give manager Aaron Boone a lot of options on his infield.