There’s a chance that Yankees infielder Neil Walker’s roster spot could soon be in jeopardy, George A. King III of the New York Post suggests. With third baseman Brandon Drury nearing a return from the disabled list and first baseman Greg Bird scheduled to come off the DL sometime next month, the Yankees could have an infield logjam which pushes someone out. That may prove to be Walker, even though he signed a $4MM deal with the Yankees in March. While Walker, 32, was previously a solid producer with the Pirates, Mets and Brewers, he has batted just .181/.231/.208 (16 wRC+) in his first 78 plate appearances as a Yankee. The fact that Walker didn’t have much of a spring training after going without a contract for several months has perhaps contributed to his sluggish start. Either way, he may need a significant uptick in production to stick on the roster if fellow infielders Drury, Bird, Didi Gregorius, Miguel Andujar, Gleyber Torres, Ronald Torreyes and Tyler Austin are all healthy in the near future. Of course, there’s recent precedent for the Yankees quickly cutting bait on a free-agent signing. It happened last June when the team designated slugger Chris Carter for assignment just a few months after guaranteeing him $3.5MM.
Now for the latest on the Yanks’ crosstown rivals…
- With Mets catchers Jose Lobaton and Tomas Nido having combined for six hits in 54 plate appearances, the club is at least considering outside options, general manager Sandy Alderson said Saturday (via Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News). “We continue to monitor the market, see what is available to us. At the same time we monitor Plawecki and his progress,” said Alderson, referring to starting catcher Kevin Plawecki, who went on the disabled list April 13 with a hairline fracture in his left hand. At approximately the same time, the Mets lost fellow backstop Travis d’Arnaud to a season-ending elbow injury, leaving them with Lobaton and Nido behind the plate. Alderson is content with the tandem’s defensive work, but it’s clear they’ve been a drag on the team’s offense. While potential trade candidates Wilson Ramos, Blake Swihart and Max Stassi have recently come up as possible targets for the Mets, Ackert hasn’t heard anything about specific backstops the team may be considering (Twitter link).
- The Mets have also gotten poor offensive production at first base, thanks largely to the struggles of low-cost free-agent pickup Adrian Gonzalez. The 35-year-old concluded his Dodgers tenure in 2017 with a nightmarish, injury-shortened showing, and he has been similarly woeful this season (.200/.296/.317 in 71 PAs). But Alderson doesn’t seem displeased with the signing, as Ackert relays in the same piece. “I think it’s played out reasonably well. If you look at some of the metrics we monitor, they are similar to his very productive years,” Alderson said. “So right now, we’re reasonably happy. I am sure he’d like to have a higher batting average and so would we. He’s had some big hits for us. What goes somewhat unrecognized, is on defense the confidence he gives the rest of the infielders over there. We’ll continue to see where this goes.” Despite Alderson’s public vote of confidence in Gonzalez, outfielder Jay Bruce could take over for him at first if his subpar production continues. Shifting Bruce to first would open up a spot in the outfield for the promising Brandon Nimmo, and it’s hard to argue the Mets are better with this version of Gonzalez in their lineup than him.