New York Mets History

Mets: Sandy Alderson’s underrated Jon Niese for Neil Walker trade

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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Sandy Alderson doesn’t get as much credit as he deserves during his tenure as the New York Mets general manager. During that time, he made some moves that deserve more appreciation.

It’s unfortunate Sandy Alderson’s time with the New York Mets will end the way it has. We can question his moves for eternity and demand he gets fired all we want. No matter how much sports hate you throw at him, I can guarantee nobody seriously wanted him to leave due to health reasons.

Alderson’s legacy as the Mets general manager is not a positive one. Because he finished so weakly, many fans will not remember him fondly.

There is one trade Alderson made that I think deserves a lot more credit. After letting Daniel Murphy walk following the 2015 season, he went out and picked up a really good second baseman from the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Had things worked out better for the Mets, the Jon Niese for Neil Walker trade would have landed near the top of Alderson’s resume. At the time, I remember thinking the Pirates were foolish to make the move. Even though Walker was one year away from free agency, giving him up for Niese seemed ridiculous.

My initial thoughts came true over the next two seasons.

In Walker’s first year with the Mets, he tied his career-high with 23 home runs. If health was kind to him, he would have surely bashed it away. Walker played in only 113 games that year. When he was on the field, not many second basemen were better.

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Walker finished the year with a .282/.347/.476 batting line. It didn’t look too great at the time because Murphy had an even better year with the Washington Nationals. Still, to get such a great performance out of Walker made letting Murphy go a little easier to swallow.

Walker did return for another year after accepting a qualifying offer from the Mets. Though he remained productive, it wasn’t to the same degree. His batting average and OBP dipped about twenty points. His slugging percentage was even lower.

The Mets did eventually trade Walker to the Milwaukee Brewers in August. In return, they landed Eric Hanhold. We don’t yet know what he will do although it’s fair to say he’s likely not bound for greatness.

Niese wasn’t nearly as lucky as Walker. He started 18 games for the 2016 Pirates and made a handful of relief appearances as well. This already hints at how his year went.

The final line for Niese’s time in Pittsburgh included an 8-6 record and a 4.91 ERA.

Perhaps feeling a little sympathetic, the Mets took Niese back in a trade for Antonio Bastardo. Niese gave them an 11.45 ERA as a reliever and starter in 2016. He hasn’t pitched in an MLB game since.

When we look at Alderson’s career as the general manager in New York, the Noah Syndergaard trade is often credited as his best work. I can agree to this, but I think we sometimes forget the smaller moves he made which helped this team remain competitive.

Next: Top five catchers in Mets history

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Which Alderson transaction do you think deserves more praise?

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