After playing a season and a half with the Mets, Neil Walker was traded to the Brewers in a mid-August move, and he solidified the second base position for the club the rest of the way. He finished the year with his fewest home runs since 2012, but in fairness he was limited for a second straight season by injuries. Over his final stretch of the season with the Brewers, he posted an .842 OPS, heading into free agency on a high note. The Brewers have not ruled out bringing Walker back, but he figures to garner interest from several teams as a veteran switch-hitter. At age 32 and coming off back-to-back injury-shortened seasons, however, it's hard to see his fantasy stock improving much moving forward, but that should still be enough for him to provide value at a second-base position that thins out after the top players come off the board.
Walker could appear in Thursday's Grapefruit League game against the Pirates, Pete Caldera of The Bergen Record reports. In addition to saying that Walker could suit up for his new club later this week, manager Aaron Boone said that Walker's current level of conditioning is sufficient for him to be active on the Opening Day roster. A more definitive plan regarding Walker's spring debut should be available in the near future.
Walker agreed to a contract with the Yankees on Monday, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports. The deal is pending a physical and terms have not yet been released. He'll slot in as the team's starting second baseman and should benefit from a hitter-friendly home park and an excellent lineup surrounding him. The only risk to Walker's fantasy value is the looming presence of Gleyber Torres, who will start in the minors but is unlikely to remain there long. Still, Torres can play around the infield, so it's far from guaranteed that Walker will inevitably lose his starting gig. He hit a solid .265/.362/.439 last year and has been an above-average hitter in all eight of his full major-league seasons, so he won't be easy to displace.
Baltimore is interested in signing Walker, but on a minor-league deal, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. He earlier rejected an offer of a minor-league deal from Kansas City, the Boston Globe reports. While Walker had his fewest home runs last season (14) since 2012, he still had a .842 OPS and looks to be a productive player at age 34. It's a little odd that he hasn't found a major-league deal with several teams in need of a second baseman.
Walker is not in the lineup for Sunday's game against the Cardinals. Walker will be withheld from the starting lineup for Game 162 against Jack Flaherty and the Cardinals. Jonathan Villar draws the start at the keystone in his stead, batting second. After a strong showing following his late-season acquisition (125 wRC+ in 38 games), the Brewers will surely make a push to re-sign Walker this offseason.
Walker is not in the lineup for Sunday's game against the Cubs. Walker struck out in four of his five at-bats during Saturday's dramatic extra-innings victory over the Cubs and will be stationed on the bench as the Brewers face off against southpaw Jose Quintana. Hernan Perez draws the start at second base and will bat leadoff.