Neil Walker is on the verge of returning to New York. The veteran second baseman is closing in on a one-year contract with the Yankees, according to multiple reports. The team has not commented about the agreement, which is pending a physical.
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
The 32-year-old Walker, who had been working out at the free-agent camp in Bradenton, Fla., is entering his 10th Major League season. His signing could signal the Yankees' intent to have touted prospects Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres begin the year in the Minor Leagues.
"I don't control that. I control playing my game every day and making progress every day, staying humble and trying to help my team. I don't know what happens right now if he signs."
Walker's contract is believed to be worth about $5 million, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, which would keep the Yankees comfortably below their envisioned $197 million payroll threshold. Walker earned $17.2 million last year after accepting a qualifying offer from the Mets.
The Yankees' second-base spot has been viewed as an open competition, with Tyler Wade leading a group that also includes Torres and Ronald Torreyes, plus non-roster invitees Danny Espinosa and Jace Peterson. Drury figures to see more time at third base, which could nudge Andujar back to the Minors.
"I'm glad we got him. It's a big bat, big power. Switch-hitter, too, so he adds versatility and he plays all over. I'm excited we got him. … I'm not worried about it. If I continue to play my game, I'll be all right."
Having hit .265 with 14 homers and 49 RBIs over 111 games for the Mets and Brewers last season, Walker missed time in the past two campaigns with health issues in his back and hamstring. Walker has recorded a league-adjusted OPS that ranked above average in each of his eight full Major League seasons, and he brings a competent glove as well.
The Yankees showed interest in Walker last year prior to the non-waiver Trade Deadline, seeking insurance behind Greg Bird at first base, but they were unwilling to meet the Mets' asking price. Walker was dealt to Milwaukee on Aug. 12.
Walker recently told The New York Times that he had discussions with the Yankees this offseason, believing that he could bounce between first base, second base and third base. However, those negotiations stalled after the Yankees' acquisition of Brandon Drury from the D-backs on Feb. 20.
A career .272 hitter with 130 home runs, Walker captured a Silver Slugger Award with the Pirates in 2014.