|Neil Walker (photo: Al Behrman/Associated Press)|
Durability isn't his only issue. He's been strong offensively, slashing .274/.341/.435 and averaging 15 homers per season since claiming second base in 2010. Not so much on the leather end, tho. After on-the-job training in 2010-11, he played a couple of years just below league average defensively, but last season saw him end with a -8.4/UZR 150 per Fangraphs. Walker is a big guy at 6'3" & 210 lbs., and both his glove and back seem to be balking at the rigors of a middle infield position.
That's what makes any effort to sign him to a long-term deal such a quandary; Walker will be asked by the Bucs to move to another, less taxing spot like first base, which lowers his value. The Pittsburgh Kid has one season after this before he gets his chance at a payday and he'll need compensated well to pass up his 2017 shot at free agency, especially knowing that he's in line to make eight figures in 2016 no matter what happens.
The Bucs have two more arb cases on the burner. Pedro Alvarez asked for $5.75M v the team offer of $5.25M, and RHP Vance Worley wants $2.45M while Pittsburgh offered $2M.