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Neil Walker is where he belongs, finally

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Tuesday’s Say Hey, Baseball is concerned with the fate of one of the babiest bombers.

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Miami Marlins Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Neil Walker signed with the Yankees Monday, pending a physical. Walker should have been signed by the Yankees months ago and for far more than his one-year, $4 million deal as Walker has a switch power bat and defensive flexibility.

Our scenario is the baseball equivalent of when the popular guy (our historically great and rich franchise) and the kinda nerdy teen girl finally find each other, except the nerdy teen never took off her glasses. Instead, the popular guy just kind of waited forever to make a move for no reason, despite a giant hole at second —or uh, in his heart. The girl has seven consecutive two-plus WAR seasons, and there is hardly a reason she should have been made to wait until mid-March for an offer.

(Except maybe *turns on educational song* collusion.)

And now that Walker is there, he probably should not have real competition for a starting spot.

The time it took for Walker to sign is relevant because it means he walks into the Bronx, or the extension of the Bronx in Tampa, straight into a fight for the starting second base position. Tyler Wade was a near lock by most accounts. Aaron Boone said Monday, “I don’t think anything changes with Tyler. He’s very much in that mix.” The Yankees think Walker will provide flexibility off the bench.

With two weeks left, Walker has been indirectly told by the Yankees that he has ground to cover and not a whole lot of time. Do you buy it, though? Wade is rated as a C-plus prospect at SB Nation, mentioned in a footnote at the end of a list with a whole paragraph of other names. He struggled through his 30-game debut in 2017, ending with a .155/.222/.224 slash line. He’s in a deep system, sure, and the kid will be alright. It’s not like no one has tanked in their debut before. But the 21-year-old is just that. Would Boone and Brian Cashman give up that year of control with such a consistent player like Walker right in front of them? A player who happened to have started on a path to one of his best seasons in 2017 before being sidelined with injury?

Walker’s injury isn’t a great look, and once players enter their 30s, front offices become wary. He has stayed consistent past 30, though, and if he gets injured again, there will be a young utility guy named Wade waiting to take his spot. Walker is likely to be able to fill in the crater at second, bringing it closer to the mountaintops of power that make up the rest of the Yankees’ lineup. (*Educational collusion song plays this post out*)