After playing 16 games last season Neil Walker had 7 home runs and 12 RBIs. Last night, the Mets 16th game of 2017, he hit his first homer of the season, a 3-run shot to give him 8 RBIs. Walker and the Mets were discussing a contract extension earlier this spring. This off-season, Walker accepted the team’s qualifying offer of $17.2 million. The extension was rumored to be for 3 years at around $40 million. Does it make sense for the Mets to keep him past this season?
Neil Walker’s 2016
Last season Walker was very good for the Mets. His offensive numbers were some of the best of his career. His home runs, slugging and OBP all either tied or set career highs.
He particularly improved batting right-handed, hitting 8 of his 23 home runs against lefties. Never considered anything but average defensively, he was seen as a big improvement over his predecessor Daniel Murphy. Especially at turning double plays and being a steady glove on routine plays. But Walker’s year was cut short when he required surgery for a herniated disc in September.
Walker is well thought of by the Mets front office for his clubhouse presence and handling of the New York media. That is something made even more important by the frequent absences of David Wright due to his injuries.
According to the Post the Mets envision using Walker as a super utility player in the future. That’s all the rage after the Cubs success last year. But $40 million is a lot for a utility guy who will turn 32 in September. An average defender at best and someone who has had back surgery. We’ve been down that road before. Money will be needed for a starting rotation that is beginning to be arbitration eligible.
Mets Second Baseman of the Future?
A possible replacement at second base is Asdrubal Cabrera, whom the Mets have a $8.5 million team option for 2018. Amed Rosario, the Mets top prospect, should be ready to play shortstop for the big league club by next season. That would allow Cabrera and his balky knee to move over. The Mets are also planning on playing Gavin Cecchini at second base in AAA this year. He’s been a high average and OBP guy, which the Mets love. But a below average defender at shortstop. Perhaps his glove is better suited for second base.
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