By Gem Tablak
Since the very beginning of the season, I wondered how the Mets would handle Neil Walker’s contract once the team started to approach the trade deadline. In April, I suggested that the Mets explore trading him away in order to avoid having to offer him a QO, a trade would have also lifted the compensation pick that would have been tied to him during the offseason.
But the year Walker was having, the chances of trading him began to grow slim by the day as he was performing at a level which exceeded the Mets brass & fans expectations. Then on August 1st, the Mets traded away Dilson Herrera, who was dubbed as the Mets future 2nd baseman by Alderson & Collins. In a brief chat I had with Wally Backman, he predicted that Herrera would be an All-Star once he plays in the majors on a regular basis. Personally, watching him 1st hand, I can’t help but to agree.
However that all changed on the afternoon of August 1st when the Mets traded away Herrera to Cincinnati for slugging right fielder, Jay Bruce. While we can judge & grade this trade all we want, the fact of the matter is that the trade is done & over with but does leave some questions at 2nd base in the upcoming years.
Walker has since undergone surgery to repair a herniated disk in his back, sound familiar? It should. It’s said that the Mets also intend to offer him the qualifying offer which will be approximately $16MM for the one season in 2017 & the team MAY even explore a multi year deal. But my question is, why? With the terrible injury history this team has, especially with arm’s & back’s. Even Walker’s own injury history is something to consider. Walker & the Mets acknowledge that he’s had back problems since his days in Pittsburgh, possibly dating back as far as 2012.
So while many fans may come to the conclusion that he’s getting his surgery & he’ll be good to go once the ’17 season rolls along, we should look at fellow Met & team Captain David Wright & his trials & tribulations since the start of his back injuries. As imagined, it’s been a long & rough road for Davey boy as we only get to see him hanging around in the dugout providing the team moral support a decent portion of his last few years. While I admire the team’s surprising depth to which no one imagined players from the farm filling in, in such major ways down the stretch nonetheless, I don’t want to add a prominent player that’s expected to be filled in for by a AAA youngster on multiple or long DL stints.
With all that being said, here’s a look at Walker’s career numbers as well as his numbers with the Mets. There is no denying the Mets would take that at 2nd every year but at what cost?