In an offseason where the New York Yankees seem to make every right move, the team added to its immense collection of talent even further on Monday. This morning, New York signed second baseman Neil Walker to a one-year deal worth up to $5 million, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports first reported the news.
Walker drew interest throughout the offseason but just never seemed to find the right deal. Then when the Yankees acquired Brandon Drury, it seemed the opportunity for a perfect arrangement between the two would not be reached. Now that's all in the past and the veteran lands in the dream spot fantasy owners wanted and what he and Yankees fans probably wanted all along.
The 32-year-old started off the 2017 season with the New York Mets and things went very well. Through his first 60 games, Walker posted a .270/.352/.468 slash line, an .820 OPS, nine home runs and 68 runs produced. He put up numbers that fantasy owners craved from the second base position and seemed to be delivering a breakout season that could help push fantasy rosters into the playoffs.
Then disaster struck with a partially torn left hamstring that cost him nearly two months of action. He struggled upon his return and in his final 13 games with the Mets, Walker showed the negative impacts from nearly two months off with just one home run, a .233/.267/.302 slash and .569 OPS. At that point New York's season was long over, so they shipped Walker off to the Milwaukee Brewers. The change in scenery, being on a more competitive club and a better hitter's environment changed him for the better. Over his last 38 games with Milwaukee, Walker slashed .267/.409/.433 with an .843 OPS and four home runs.
Unfortunately, the free agent market never seemed to work out in his favor. But his patience in waiting for the right opportunity now should pay off with the Yankees. Not only will the 32-year-old be competing on a club who could win the World Series, but he'll also be hitting in one of the game's most hitter-friendly stadiums and be surrounded by some of the best hitters in the American League.
Walker should see 400-plus at bats this season and with the power he showed last season, he offers the potential of 20-plus home runs with a .260-plus batting average and a .340-plus OBP. Those numbers would easily make him a top-20 player at his position in fantasy and a great value pick late in drafts. While there will be the threat of a Gleyber Torres promotion, New York wants to win now and Walker offers more to them immediately in 2018 than Torres does.