Update, 5:15pm: The Yankees have announced the signing. Jake Cave was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster. Expect Cave to be traded in the coming days.
Source: Second baseman Neil Walker has agreed to a deal with the New York Yankees. Still pending a physical.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 12, 2018
This made too much sense not to happen. The Yankees have an opening at second base, at least until Gleyber Torres sheds any doubt that he’s ready for the show. Walker can play second base and is a solid hitter. What else needs to be said?
ZiPS projects Walker to hit .269/.346/.461 (108 wRC+) and accumulate just under 2 WAR in 483 plate appearances. Given his track record and 2018 forecast, Walker is almost certainly the opening day second baseman. It’s a bit of tough luck for Tyler Wade, who appeared to be on the precipice of nabbing the job to start the year. Perhaps after the Yankees saw Wade roll his wrist a few days ago, despite it being not serious, the team decided to re-engage with Walker after apparently backing out once they acquired Brandon Drury.
— Billy Witz (@billywitz) February 27, 2018
At some point, when Torres is ready to take the keys at second base, Walker won’t have to be fully relegated to the bench. The switch-hitter should be able to play a few times a week even if not an everyday player. He has experience at the infield corners too, meaning that he can spell Drury and Greg Bird. Speaking of Bird, Walker is a nice hedge at first base in case Bird winds up getting hurt. Walker’s versatility makes him a better option for that than the recently added Adam Lind.
The Yankees were already in good shape prior to adding Walker. Adding him only deepens the roster and lengthens the lineup, both good things. Two thumbs up on this free agent addition.