The Pittsburgh Kid, Neil Walker has been one heck of a better than average player for the Pirates since he came in to the majors. He is a solid if not unspectacular fielder he makes nearly all the plays he should and every once in a while pulls off a gem or blunder. He is a solid if not one of the better hitting second basemen in the majors. He could also be an emergency catcher if it ever go to that point.. luckily it hasn't.
So why trade him? Again, as with many roster moves it comes down to money. This year Walker is
making $8 million via arbitration and if he has a similar season expect that number to be over $10
million next year. That number is bound to keep increasing until 2017 when he is a free agent at 31
years old. While still a fair deal for a good hitting catcher turned third basemen turned second
basemen it is still a good portion of the Pirates budget and the Pirates have other options.
As of right now the Pirates have Josh Harrison, Jordy Mercer, Jung Ho Kang and Sean Rodriguez
who can all play Second, Third and Short (and some Outfield too). All 4 of those players make
about half or less than Neil. All of those players have also been fighting for playing time. Harrison
and Kang should also have similar effectiveness from the plate. Only from the right side of the plate
instead of Neil's switch hitting.
In the minors you have Alen Hanson working his way up probably late this summer. Comparing
Alen's and Neil's Minor League stats Alen is working his way through much faster, is a better bat but
not as good defensively as Neil was in the minors. Alen is also a switch hitter if he can improve is
defense and keep up the effort....
Also in the line to come up the next couple years, Cole Tucker and JaCoby Jones. Again like the
outfield there is a log jam of talent. If you can save $5 million and get similar performance then
you do it.
As much as I like Neil Walker and want to see him retire in the black and gold, in my opinion the
only way Neil Walker stays a Pirate after this season is if he takes a substantial home town discount
on an extension and signs for less than $10 million buying out arbitration.