Don’t get me wrong, I like Neil Walker. Solid player. And who knows, he could be destined to be immortalized in Met lore with some future huge playoff or World Series moment. I wouldn’t be surprised. But with nothing much else going on with the Hot Stove lately, I’ve had these recurring nagging thoughts…
Might the Mets have taken a calculated risk and lost when Walker accepted their $17MM qualifying offer to stay with the club for 2017? To be fair, at the time of the offer the Mets did not yet know whether they’d be able to resign Yoenis Cespedes.
At least part of their calculus had to be geared toward strengthening the lineup top-to-bottom - especially in case Cespedes bolted for a bigger payday elsewhere. Even at that time though, they might have been secretly happy if Walker would have declined the offer and signed a multi-year contract elsewhere, giving them an additional high draft pick as compensation. Had that happened, I t would have opened up ample playing time at 2B for Jose Reyes, Wilmer Flores and/or TJ Rivera, while freeing up those $17MM to shore up the bullpen, or make a free agent splash at C, 1B or CF. As it is, it’s hard to argue that the front office doesn’t have a tougher budget challenge ahead of them in rounding out the team heading into Spring training than they might have had.
But enough negative thoughts. I’m sure the back problem that cost Walker the end of the 2016 season is fixed, and won’t be an issue, right? Just picture that big playoff moment next Fall. Tying and winning runs in scoring position - Neil Walker strides to the plate..