2:16pm: Then again, Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears a deal is indeed near. (Twitter link.)
2:05pm: Ackert’s source now tells her a deal is “definitely in the works” but is “not close to being done.” (Twitter link.)
2:02pm: The Mets are “closing in” on a deal for Walker, Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News reports (via Twitter).
1:00pm: It appears that the Pirates are targeting starting pitching in any deal for Walker, according to a series of reports.
Jon Niese of the Mets is one name that has come up in talks as a “possible return” for Walker, Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports on Twitter. He’s owed $9MM for the coming season, which is close to Walker’s expected cost, and can also be controlled via successive $10MM and $11MM options.
As for the Angels, it’s not clear which of several possible players could make the most sense. Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times suggests on Twitter that Hector Santiago would make for a “good fit” in Pittsburgh, but I’d have to think the Bucs would need to add to Walker to pry him free. Meanwhile, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review notes in a tweet that C.J. Wilson could be a part of a trade, though he notes that the Halos would have to add cash for that to line up.
Meanwhile, the Nationals do have interest but it is “nothing serious,” per MLB.com’s Bill Ladson (via Twitter).
11:35am: The Angels are also among the teams with strong interest, according to reports from Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times (via Twitter) and Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Twitter link). The Dodgers also have interest, he adds, though it’s not as significant.
11:22am: The Nationals have joined the Mets with interest in Pirates second baseman Neil Walker, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports on Twitter. Both teams heavily pursued Ben Zobrist in free agency and are now apparently looking at backup options.
Notably, the Mets were spurned by Zobrist despite feeling confident that they would get a deal done. And the Nationals joined the Giants in topping the offer that he eventually took with the Cubs, according to a report from James Wagner of the Washington Post. It’s apparent, then, that both clubs had serious interest.
Given that the division rivals were said to be looking at Zobrist primarily as a second baseman, Walker represents a less-versatile, less-accomplished, but younger alternative. The 30-year-old is also a switch hitter, though he’s been far better against righties than lefties. He’s never put up the numbers that Zobrist has at the plate, but does own a strong .272/.338/.431 career batting line.
Walker is quite a different asset from Zobrist, though, as he’s only under team control for one more season. MLBTR projects that he could command $10.7MM through the arbitration process.
Pittsburgh also had talks with the Orioles, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review tweets, but those discussions were ended when they failed to develop any traction.