TAMPA, Fla. (AP) – Joining the New York Yankees caused Neil Walker to smile, despite a hefty drop in salary.
The free agent infielder agreed Monday to a $4 million, one-year contract, a 77 percent pay cut in a deal that allows New York prospects Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar more time to mature in the minor leagues.
Walker earned $17.2 million last season, when he accepted a qualifying offer from the New York Mets.
“It’s certainly a crazy offseason but more than anything my hope was that I’d land somewhere that’s going to be competitive and have a chance to win,” Walker said. “I’m happy to be here, happy to be on a contending team.”
Walker likely will start at second base and Brandon Drury, acquired from Arizona last month, will play third. Walker can make $500,000 in performance bonuses: $125,000 each for 425, 450, 475 and 500 plate appearances.
“It’s just another choice for manager,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. “If he takes something from somebody over time, so be it. But again he’s getting a little bit of a late start given the fact that we’re probably about two weeks away from leaving Florida.”
The 32-year-old hit .265 with 14 homers and 49 RBIs last year for the Mets and Milwaukee, who acquired him Aug. 12.
Among the victims of a historically slow free agent market, Walker had been working out at the camp for free agents in Bradenton, organized by the players’ association.
“I didn’t have an offer from anybody until three days ago,” Walker said. “I’m excited to be a part of this.”
Walker will wear No. 14 with the Yankees. His deal raised New York’s projected luxury tax payroll to approximately $181 million, about $16 million below the luxury tax threshold.
“It’s something we couldn’t ignore when the opportunity still existed,” Cashman said.
Notes: Yankees broadcaster Ken Singleton announced on Twitter that 2018 will be last year in the booth. “I’ve been playing or talking baseball ever since I was 4 years old. It’s time for this enjoyable ride to end. Thanks fans for allowing me into your homes & businesses.” … Yankees manager Aaron Boone said OF Jacoby Ellsbury might not be ready for start of the regular season. Ellsbury is hitting off a tee and taking soft toss. … The Yankees released INF Danny Espinosa and sent INF Kyle Holder to their minor league camp.
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