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Neil Walker accepts Mets’ qualifying offer

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Aug 15, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; New York Mets second baseman Neil Walker against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 15, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; New York Mets second baseman Neil Walker against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /
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Neil Walker has accepted the Mets’ qualifying offer

Walker had until 5 p.m. Monday to officially inform the Mets of his decision, which Joel Sherman of the New York Post was first to report.

With Walker accepting the qualifying offer, $17.2 million has just been added to the Mets’ payroll, though they shed a large chunk when Bartolo Colon opted to sign a one-year deal with the Braves worth $12.5 million…leaving Mets fans broken.

Walker, who was acquired from the Pirates in exchange for Jon Niese prior to last season, hit .282/.347/.476 with 23 HR and 55 RBI in 113 games for the Mets, last playing on Aug. 27.

His season was declared over soon after due to a back injury that required surgery.

Walker has dealt with back issues for years, which could be one of the reasons why he opted to accept the Mets’ one-year offer.

He’s expected to be ready for Spring Training and there’s a chance he would’ve gotten a solid multiyear offer on the free agent market. But there was no shot any team would’ve offered him near the annual value the qualifying offer will pay him.

With Walker in the fold, the infield — if David Wright is healthy — is likely set with Wright at third base, Asdrubal Cabrera at shortstop, Walker at second base, and Lucas Duda at first base.

The Mets technically have a decision to make on Duda, but it would be shocking if he was non-tendered.

Meanwhile, Walker’s return (again, if Wright is healthy) means Jose Reyes will be a bench player. The same goes for Wilmer Flores, whose season ended early last year due to a wrist injury that required surgery.

Next: Mets have spoken with Blue Jays about Bruce

That would give New York two really solid options on the bench to go along with their backup catcher and whoever rounds it out.

But now, the attention needs to shift back to Yoenis Cespedes and making sure he stays in Flushing.

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