Posted by Reese Kaplan at 8:00 AM
Had back surgery not ended Walker’s season prematurely it would have been one of the more hotly debated topics of the Hot Stove Season – whether or not the sloppy seconds “reward” of Neil Walker for similar money would make up for the MVP-season loss of Daniel Murphy. Ongoing back problems and eventual surgery make it highly unlikely the Mets would be interested in bringing back the high ticket Walker using the return of David Wright to convince the fan base that his offense will be more than offset. If Walker would accept a one-year “prove yourself” type of deal and then try for the big free agent deal in 2018, then I could see them making a run at him, but otherwise I think he has played his last game for the Mets already.
In an ill advised move to accommodate the since out-of-baseball Kazuo Matsui, Reyes did once start the year as the starting 2nd baseman, and although he’s played primarily 3rd this season to fill in for the injured David Wright, all signs point to the Mets’ collective delusion continuing that Wright will be available next season. Therefore Reyes needs to shift to somewhere and Asdrubal Cabrera’s solid season (health notwithstanding) suggests that latecomer Reyes is the fellow on the move.
With more good options available at 2B than elsewhere on the diamond, I don’t think the most recent injured Mets is destined to be the starting second baseman. After all, the propensity to favor veterans over rookies would be justification alone, but Reyes brings a dimension of speed and anxiety to opposing pitchers and catchers that’s sadly missing from the offense. I stick by my thought he should be part of a 1st Base platoon.
Here’s an interesting dilemma for the Mets. When they finally deigned to add the lowly regarded .323 career hitter to the 40 man roster he picked right up where he left off in the minors. He’s a pesky hitter who has great ABs, but he’s kind of in the mold of Tom Herr who finished the 1985 season with a .302 average, only 8 home runs but 102 RBIs. Could Rivera do something like that? I doubt we’ll ever know because he plays multiple positions (none of them particularly well) and isn’t blessed with Reyes-like speed. His future is on the bench and perhaps usurping the Wilmer Flores supersub role if Wilmer indeed becomes a semi-regular.
This prospective move – tampering with success – makes no sense whatsoever. Cabrera is not Ozzie Smith but he’s been steady and solid at shortstop. He’s under contract next year for a relative bargain at $8.5 million for 2017. There is probably greater likelihood they would trade him to create room for Reyes or Gavin Cecchini than there is moving Cabrera to 2B.
Here’s the toughest one to figure out. He started off looking like one of the busts of the Mets scouting crew who seemed to have found a good glove/no-hit kind of shortstop. However, when the 2nd baseman of the future – Dilson Herrera – was sent to Cincinnati in the Jay Bruce trade, many were clamoring to try the suddenly hot hitting and defensively challenged Cecchini to 2nd base. I even asked him about that a few weeks ago when he was here in El Paso to play the Chihuahuas but he said no one had asked him to do so. Yet. Just as the season came to an end he was given some innings at 2B and is going to the Arizona Fall League presumably to play there semi-regularly. Like Rivera before him on this list, he’s got the potential to hit for a high average, but his advantage is his status as a number one draft pick. His 21 year old season in AA resulted in a .317 AVG and this past season at the ripe old age of 22 he hit .325 for Las Vegas. During the late season surge to a post-season he’s not likely to get much of a glimpse so he remains a great unknown commodity.
The usual suspects – Eric Campbell, Ty Kelly, Matt Reynolds and Kelly Johnson – are not likely to be considered starters if the team is serious about contending.
Bank on it, when the season starts in 2017 the Opening Day 2nd basemen will be Jose Reyes. Look at the reasons: a fan favorite, a leadoff batter, a base stealing threat and the dominant reason that towers above all others – the contract allows them to retain his services at bargain basement prices.