The Mets like Neil Walker, and Neil Walker likes the Mets. But not so fast…
Talks between the Mets and Neil Walker regarding an extension have hit a snag, according to Marc Carig of Newsday.
Later on Monday, Mike Puma of the New York Post reported that the Mets feel extension talks are probably “dead.”
That snag, according to Carig, has to do with how to restructure the first year of the deal, which would be this season. A potential deal would extend Walker’s contract through 2019.
While Carig says no deal is imminent as of Monday morning, the team had reportedly been close to agreeing on an extension. WFAN’s Ed Coleman first reported the news on the radio.
The New York Daily News’ Kristie Ackert had added some figures to the mix in her report on Sunday afternoon. According to Ackert, the potential deal would include 2017 (and Walker’s qualifying offer), and an additional two years, bringing the total to more than $40 million.
While both the Mets and Walker’s reps declined to comment, Walker has expressed his desire to continue his career in the Big Apple before, so this shouldn’t really shock us.
Walker had a productive season with the Mets and flashed even better power than he had in seven previous years in Pittsburgh. The 31-year old tied a career high in home runs (23) and slugged .476 before undergoing back surgery in September.
On the one hand, you have a steady veteran who can hit in the .270-.280 range and normally provides solid defense in the field. His power saw an uptick in 2016, which is a great sign going forward. There’s something to be said for reliability and consistency, which is what Walker has shown to bring to the table during his career.
Adversely, you have the injury issues. Even though Walker hasn’t missed a lot of time in each season, he has missed somewhere in the range of 20-40 games in four of the last five years. Last year, a recurring back issue struck at the worst time. The Mets still managed to make the postseason without having Walker in September. It’s fair to wonder how much that weighs in the decision of offering an extension though.
Still, the positives of having Walker make the risk a worthy investment. T.J. Rivera and Gavin Cecchini are waiting in the wings as potential replacements if a deal isn’t reached. Rivera has shown a steady, disciplined bat but it was a smaller sample size at the Major League level. Cecchini is close to the Majors and appeared in four games last year. However, there is an unknown of how either would perform over a full season.
If the figures are accurate, it breaks down to an average of $13.3 million per year. That would make Walker the fifth highest paid second baseman behind Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler, Ben Zobrist, and Dustin Pedroia.
The dollar amount is a pretty good bargain amount for who I think we can all agree is a top 10 second baseman in the league. Furthermore, if Dominic Smith and Amed Rosario are going to be full-time Mets by 2018 then that only enhances the need for a veteran presence like Walker on the infield.
Yoenis Cespedes showed his loyalty to New York and that was rewarded with a new contract. Walker’s loyalty combined with his play should warrant the same course of action.