Neil Walker signs cheap deal with Marlins
The Marlins are tearing things down, again, but that doesn’t mean there is no use for veterans for a rebuilding team. Miami recognized that in this specific case, and improved their infield and lineup with a cheap signing of a veteran. On Tuesday, the team added veteran second baseman Neil Walker to a one-year deal worth just $2 million. Walker has quietly been a good and steady player for years now, and while his numbers from 2018 don’t look great they are brought down from a really rough start to his season in New York. He picked things up in the second half and looked like his old self again. At 33 years old it’s certainly fair to expect some decline from his peak, but I’d be pretty confident in him outperforming his 2018 full-season numbers. He’s someone to keep an eye on as a Red Sox fan, because if Dustin Pedroia gets hurt again and they need to turn to the trade market to fill that position, Walker will be at or near the top of that list if he’s performing.
The other part of this deal that affects the Red Sox is how Miami made rom for him. The Marlins needed a spot opened up on their 40-man roster, so they designated Nick Wittgren for assignment in a mildly surprising move. Now, as the linked post above alludes to, a trade will almost certainly be worked out, but you don’t see players who have been designated for assignment traded for anything too intriguing very often. Wittgren is not a stud, but he’s been solid over his career and is coming off a strong season. He also has a minor-league option remaining, and the Red Sox have an open 40-man spot. Assuming they aren’t saving that spot for Craig Kimbrel — which I still think is possible, if not likely — and are going with the strategy of just throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks, Wittgren would be a smart addition.
Torey Lovullo gets contract extension
Old friend alert. Torey Lovullo served as bench coach under John Farrell — and had success taking over the manager role when Farrell was first diagnosed with cancer — but left a few years ago for a manager job in Arizona. People in Boston loved Lovullo and expected him to succeed and that’s exactly what he’s done. He’s done so well that the team handed him a two-year extension on Tuesday. Now, he could be having some tough times on the horizon out in the desert, as the Diamondbacks lost A.J. Pollock to free agency and traded their best player, Paul Goldschmidt, to the Cardinals this winter. It’s tough for a manager to see talent like that go without any commensurate replacements, so this seems like something of an olive branch from the team to its manager. Hopefully Lovullo doesn’t have his roster held against him in evaluations over the next couple of years.