The Orioles have been engaged in trade talks this offseason with the Pittsburgh Pirates regarding second baseman Neil Walker, according to an industry source.
Talks between the clubs were described as "off and on," but the Orioles have discussed Walker as recently as last week during the General Managers Meetings in Boca Raton, Fla. Those discussions haven't gone very far, but the teams appear open to continuing the dialogue.
Walker, 30, is a career .272/.338/.431 hitter over parts of seven major league seasons, all of them with the Pirates. Last year, Walker hit .269/.328/.427 with 32 doubles, 16 homers and 71 RBIs in 151 games. He hit a career-high 23 homers in 2014.
All but 14 of Walker's 788 major league starts have come at second base, and 24-year-old Jonathan Schoop is entrenched there. But the Orioles see Walker as a possible fit at first base if the club can't bring back free agents Chris Davis and Steve Pearce. He could also help fill the club's corner-outfield spots, be an occasional designated hitter and fill in at second base for Schoop or at third base for Manny Machado.
Walker made $8 million last season and projects to make $9-10 million in his final year of arbitration eligibility before becoming a free agent after the 2016 season. The Pirates have nine arbitration-eligible players, so they are looking to deal some of their high-salary arbitration-eligible players. The Orioles already have 11 arbitration-elgible players on their 40-man roster.
The Pirates would likely be looking for pitching prospects – they acquired lefties Stephen Tarpley and Steven Brault for outfielder Travis Snider last season – but would also likely be open to younger position players.
The Pirates' demands will likely depend on how much they want to move Walker, whose role with the club diminished in the final months of last season.