The New York Mets finally made their first offseason move by swapping Jon Niese for Neil Walker.
The Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates completed a trade on Wednesday that sent Niese, the sixth starter on a five-man rotation, to Pittsburgh, and Walker, a veteran second baseman, to New York.
Walker, 30, has been in the league since 2009, and was selected with the eleventh pick in the 2004 MLB Draft. In 151 games (543 AB) last season, he batted .269/.328/.427 with 16 homers, 71 RBIs and 4 SB.
He is arbitration eligible this offseason, but doesn’t become a free agent until after the 2016 season. Represented by Hendricks Sports, he made roughly $8M in 2015, and is expected to receive $9M after arbitration, sources with knowledge of the trade said on twitter.
The switch-hitting second baseman was likely signed to platoon with Dilson Herrera after New York struck out in their attempt to sign Ben Zobrist to a four-year contract. Daniel Murphy, the team’s starting second baseman in 2015, is currently on the market and doesn’t seem poised to sign with the Mets.
Herrera, 21, is incredibly raw and unproven. One of the Queens based team’s biggest prospects, he was given a shot in the big leagues at the end of the 2015 season, when he hit .211/.311/.367 with 3 home runs and 6 RBIs in 31 games.
This move makes sense, as the Mets were able to acquire a solid second baseman without surrendering a draft pick or a key component of their team. From a hitting standpoint, Walker has plenty of pop but a tendency to strike out a ton. In 2015, he fanned at the plate 110 times.
He is also an average fielder, posting a 0.1 DWar and .989 field percentage. Niese, who would have likely been relegated to the bullpen, was projected to make $9M this season.