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Is Todd Walker the Solution?

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A week or so ago, Al compiled a list of possible third base acquisitions after Gord Ash said the FO was exploring possibilities. None of them are too exciting, though I'd love to have Esteban German in the fold.

The Padres keep coming up in speculations, because they have the weakest (and least settled) left field among major league teams: a platoon of Terrmel Sledge and Jose Cruz Jr. If there was a team that might spring for Jenkins (or Mench), that'd be the one.

So, I think it's newsworthy for Brewers fans that the Padres may not be interested in keeping Todd Walker around:

Player agents and major league executives said that if the Padres release utility man Todd Walker, they wouldn't be surprised to see the players' union file a grievance. The Padres would owe the utility man $658,000 of his $3.95 million arbitration-set salary if they release him by March 15.

Walker is a career .289 hitter whose best position is second base, where Marcus Giles is the projected starter and Geoff Blum is among the backups. At third base, the Padres have rookie Kevin Kouzmanoff, Russell Branyan and Blum. A left-handed hitter, Walker also has played first, but the starter there, Adrian Gonzalez, also is left-handed.

The Padres situation is kind of like Milwaukee's with Tony Graffanino: I don't think they really wanted to keep him around (certainly not at $4 million), but they're stuck with him.

These are the sorts of things that lead to salary dump trades. Walker for Jenkins? I'd do it in a heartbeat. I might even throw in a few bucks. Let's look at some career numbers, with the understanding that all of these guys are in their 30s, and probably won't produce at these exact levels:

  • Walker: 289/349/437
  • Graffanino: 269/338/396
  • Counsell: 260/344/350
Walker is clearly the class of the group, though I admit it isn't as dramatic as I thought it might be. And, Walker probably gives some of that up with the glove.

However, if we're looking at a platoon, Walker is perfect. His career line against righties is 297/358/453--not as good as Koskie's (286/382/488), but getting closer. Best of all, Walker seems to be traded at the deadline just about every year, so by the time Ryan Braun is ready, we can find a new home for Walker and save a few bucks.

The question, I guess, is whether the Brewers ought to be proactive and make that trade right now, or if we ought to wait and see if the Pads really do release him on March 15th. If so, he'd probably come cheaper--not a lot, but maybe down to $2M or $2.5M, and we wouldn't have to part with anybody to get him.

My take: if we can do a Walker-Jenkins deal and manage to save a few bucks in the process, we ought to do it. I'd much rather have Walker as half of my third base platoon and Gabe Gross as half of my left field platoon than rely on Counsell for corner-infield production.