Neil Walker tells Billy Witz of the New York Times that his camp held fairly extensive talks with the Yankees before they acquired Brandon Drury (all links to Twitter). Walker said he and his agents felt that they were “fairly close” to hammering out a deal with the Yanks, who instead swung a trade to bring in Drury for added infield depth. The 32-year-old switch-hitter felt the Yankees were a strong fit, as he knows the rigors of playing in the New York media market and was “certainly willing” to bounce around the infield and play multiple positions. Walker was hoping for a multi-year deal with the Yankees, though, and suggests that the team ultimately “decided to hang onto money for midseason,” when they could be in the market for adding veterans via trade.
More from the division…
- The Rays have taken plenty of heat for their offseason moves, though Travis Sawchick of Fangraphs observes one common thread among the hitters they’ve let go: a susceptibility to whiffs against four-seam fastballs. Corey Dickerson swung through more four-seamers than anyone in Major League Baseball last season by a wide margin, Sawchik notes, while Steven Souza was third on that list and Logan Morrison tied for seventh. Sawchik also notes that each of the three had declines in the season’s second half (though Morrison maintained above-average production). Replacements such as Carlos Gomez and especially C.J. Cron had fewer struggles against the fastball, he adds. Sawchik has written in the past about how the Tampa Bay organization emphasizes utilizing elevated fastballs as a weapon more than most other clubs, so perhaps that trend applies to both sides of the ball.
- The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier runs through some troubling numbers for the Red Sox’ offense from 2017, observing that the team’s lineup was startlingly ineffective in hitters’ counts. Boston took an abnormally passive approach at the plate last season, per Speier, and while they were among the game’s more productive clubs in 0-2, 1-2 and 2-2 counts, they ranked in the bottom third of baseball in 3-1, 2-0, 2-1, 1-0, 0-0, 1-1 and 0-1 counts (by measure of OPS). The Red Sox ranked last in the American League in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage in 0-0 counts, he adds. Speier spoke at length with principal owner John Henry about the trends, which did not go unnoticed by ownership or the front office and may have played a notable role in the organization’s coaching overhaul. Notably, Speier adds that new skipper Alex Cora saw his Astros pounce on the first pitch with regularity and with great success in 2017.