As the Mets consider their options to upgrade their roster, team officials have begun to explore the possibility of a Neil Walker reunion.
Who’s on second for the New York Mets in 2018? According to the New York Post’s Mike Puma, the best solution may come in the form of a familiar face. After being shipped to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for a player to be named later this past August (Eric Hanhold), team officials are exploring the possibility of a reunion with Neil Walker.
Seeking to find a suitable double-play partner for budding star shortstop Amed Rosario, the Mets have been linked to trade possibilities for Jason Kipnis, Ian Kinsler, and Dee Gordon. However, acquiring a second baseman through free agency would allow them to preserve their farm system and reallocate their trade chips to suit a different need.
After the Mets parted ways with Daniel Murphy following their trip to the World Series in 2015, they acquired Walker in exchange for Jon Niese, a bargain in retrospect. Recurring back issues shortened his first year with the club, but Walker was impressive in his time spent on the field, posting a .282/.347/.476 slash line with 23 home runs and 55 RBI, career highs in both categories.
This motivated the club enough to slap a $17.2 million qualifying offer on him, which he accepted. What’s interesting here is that the Mets were wary of working out an extension with Murphy, who signed a three-year, $36 million deal with the Washington Nationals and has been a perennial MVP candidate for the last two seasons. In Walker’s two seasons as a Met, they paid him approximately $28 million, for significantly less production at the plate.
In 2017, Walker posted a .265/..362/.439 slash line with 14 home runs and 49 RBI in 111 games split between the Mets and the Brewers. Like his 2016 season, 2017 was marred by injuries. Walker spent five weeks on the sidelines with a tear in his left hamstring.
General manager Sandy Alderson and the front office see Walker as a solid clubhouse guy and team leader, in addition to being an offensive threat. The team has been impressed with his leadership and professionalism since coming over from Pittsburgh two offseasons ago.
The situation is fluid, as it all depends on where the Mets choose to allocate their free agent budget and trade chips. The team has also been reportedly targeting corner outfielders with first base experience, as well as upgrades for their bullpen.