Neil Walker's harrowing offseason came to an end Monday when he finalized a one-year deal with the New York Yankees, and the veteran infielder admitted shortly after arriving at George M. Steinbrenner Field that he had zero job prospects as recently as last week.
"When it comes down to it, I didn't have an offer from anybody until three days ago," Walker told reporters, including MLB.com's Bryan Hoch. "That was certainly frustrating. It came together fairly quickly starting the middle of last week. I'm happy to have a few weeks to get ready for the season."
Walker, who earned $17.2 million last year after accepting the New York Mets' qualifying offer, was expected to receive a lucrative, multi-year deal this winter, but ended up settling for a $4-million guarantee from the Yankees. The 32-year-old hasn't had an annual salary that low since 2013, his first year of arbitration eligibility.
"It made too much sense not to complete something here," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. "Hopefully, it protects us and improves us."
A natural second baseman, Walker spent some time at both first and third base for the Mets and Milwaukee Brewers in 2017, and he'll likely play all over the infield again this year. Walker, a first-round pick back in 2004, has accrued at least 2.1 WAR in each of the last seven seasons, and managed an .801 OPS (111 OPS+) with 14 home runs, 21 doubles, and a career-best 12.3 percent walk rate over 111 games last year.
"More than anything, my hope was that I would land somewhere that was going to be competitive and had a chance to win," Walker said. "At the end of the day, you can't really control what happened in the offseason. I'm just happy to be here and happy to be on a contending team."
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