Neil Walker’s arrival may very well have ended any position battles that remained for the New York Yankees.
The New York Yankees made some waves Monday afternoon, signing veteran infielder Neil Walker to a one-year deal. The waves weren’t due to Walker having a lack of talent, but due to an already crowded—and unsettled—infield situation in camp.
How will Walker’s arrival not only impact the infield situation, but the roster in general? Let’s take a look.
More than anyone else, Wade loses steam with the addition of Walker.
He’s been having a phenomenal spring, hitting .333 with a .814 OPS, but with Walker in the mix, Wade no longer has a case for being the Opening Day second baseman. Wade could, however, replace Ronald Torreyes as the team’s utility infielder if he doesn’t start the year with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Torres struggled mightily this spring and was likely headed back to Triple-A without Walker’s addition.
But with Walker in the picture, the Yankees wasted little time sending their top prospect back to the farm, making the move official on Tuesday.
Following today’s game, the Yankees optioned C Kyle Higashioka and INF Gleyber Torres to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and reassigned them to minor league camp.
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) March 13, 2018
Torres can now continue to shake off the rust and get himself back to where he was before the surgery without any unnecessary pressure.
As already noted, Wade is a legitimate threat to take Torreyes’ spot as the team’s primary utility infielder, a role Torreyes thrived in last season. Over a career-high 315 at-bats in 2017, Torreyes hit .292 with three home runs, 36 RBI, and a .689 OPS.
He captured the hearts of Yankees fans, but that’s not going to be enough to guarantee him a roster spot.
Andujar also suffers from this trade indirectly. He has very loudly been putting together a great spring at the plate and there hasn’t been much talk of his defense being inadequate. The Walker signing, however, pushes Brandon Drury to his natural position at third.
Because Drury has already had success at the major league level, and because Andujar isn’t able to play any other position, the young slugger will more than likely join Torres in Scranton to start the season.
While most of the focus on position battles were at second and third base, the backup first base job was also open. This is an extremely critical position for the Yankees as Greg Bird has had trouble staying on the field thus far in his career.
Adding Walker, who has the ability to play first base, likely ends that position battle and allows Aaron Boone the flexibility to decide between an extra arm or an extra glove on the bench. Both Austin and McKinney are likely to start in Scranton.
While signing Neil Walker may have been a surprise to Yankees fans expecting to see one of the highly-touted prospects take over Starlin Castro’s old job, it really is a phenomenal move by Brian Cashman.
If anything has been made clear this offseason, it’s that the name of the game is versatility and flexibility. While Walker will primarily play second base, he also has the ability to play the infield corners. So don’t get too upset that Walker may be taking a spot from one of our beloved prospects. Cashman hasn’t let us down yet.