Mack Ade - Neil Walker


Good morning.

Resigning Neil Walker was the textbook case of a ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ situation.

The native Pittsburgh born Pine Richard H.S. (Gibsonia) graduate started out as a catcher (2004) in the Pirates organization and remained a Pira6te through the 2015 season.

The Pirates traded Walker to the Mets (so much for home town loyalty) in December 2015. He signed a one-year $10.55mil deal with the Mets for the 2016 season, where he had a banner year (412-AB, 23-HR, .282) until his back went out. He became a free agent after 2016, but the Mets moved in and Walker agreed to their qualifying offer of $17.2mil for the 2017 season.

So now we have three starting infielders (David Wright, Lucas Duda) with bad backs costing the team $39.45mil to play a little baseball this season.

Smart move?

Reese Kaplan, of Mack’s Mets, said –

 I screamed from every rooftop to let this guy walk because he would be that rare player who would indeed accept the QO when it was made.  After all, he was coming off back surgery and it was unlikely any other club would want to offer him a long term deal until they saw he was once again healthy enough to handle the workload of a middle-of-the-order hitter.  Sure enough, the Mets offered and Walker bit, and now the Mets are licking their $17.2 million wound.

Don’t get me wrong.  The logic made perfect sense.  You did not know what was going to happen with Yoenis Cespedes.  Just like the Jay Bruce option being picked up, it was a hedge against Yo seeking greener pastures elsewhere.  The difference is that they had plenty of depth at the 2nd base position in Jose Reyes, Wilmer Flores, T.J. Rivera and even Gavin Cecchini.
What they’ve done by with that offer is hampered many other moves as they do not have the payroll flexibility to acquire the quality bullpen arms they need.  Furthermore, this whole scenario is going to repeat itself at the end of 2017 when Walker once again achieves free agent status.

It’s possible that they may want to talk to Walker about a long term deal to lock him up for say 3 years for his ages 32-35 seasons but I can’t see them going any longer than that.  Given what Daniel Murphy received from the Washington Nationals and using that as a yardstick, if you were Neil Walker would you sign for a cut in pay of nearly $5 million per year for the security of a three year deal?  If he has another 20+ HR season I think he’d likely want to test the waters and this time I hope the Mets would stay out of the QO game.  He may come back to them and perhaps he’s the 3B solution of the future if David Wright is once again unable to play.

Another way to go is to keep watching how guys like Rivera, Cecchini and Amed Rosario (with Asdrubal Cabrera shifting to 2B) progress throughout the year and see if perhaps you can turn this expensive mistake into something by peddling him at the trade deadline to another club to get prospects in return?  Isn’t that just as good as extending the QO in the hopes of getting a draft pick without the risk of getting stuck with a $17.2 million salary AND getting another club to eat 50% of it?  Of course, it all depends where the Mets find themselves in the standings come mid-season. 

Opinion – Frankly, I scratched my head when this deal was done. It’s not like he’s 25 years old and the picture of good health.

I’m sure that Sandy Alderson did not plan on spending $52.7mil this upcoming season on Walker, Jay Bruce, and Yoenes Cespedes. Believe me, the Bruce offer was a hedge because there was a good chance Cespedes wasn’t coming back. The Walker signing? $17.2mil for a 31-year old with a bad back? I don’t know.

And it’s not like there is a second base prospect in the wings. Dilson Herrera is gone. And we can assume that Amed Rosario will play short. Frankly, our hope now lies with the conversion of Gavin Cecchini into as good as a defensive second baseman as Murphy was (is). We know Cecchini can hit minor league ball and he has impressed so far this pre-season, but he's a long way away fro success at this position, at this level.


Thomas Brennan said...

Like Reese said, they had plenty of depth at the 2nd base position in Jose Reyes, Wilmer Flores, T.J. Rivera and even Gavin Cecchini. The Walker signing will really make sense only if Wright (or Cabrera) get hurt, it appears. I hope Walker proves me wrong and has a healthy career year.

Anonymous said...

This move by our resident genius was wrong from the beginning. QO in case that Cespedes decides to move on? who cares, this was one off-season loaded with sluggers so there were plenty of choices.

Right now I see Walker and I think Duda. Back issues are hard to overcome. 2B would have opened at bats for Jose and Flores even if Wright was back and healthy.

Right now the Mets are stuck with Walker. If the team is doing well and he is hitting, the Mets are not going to take a chance and trade him. If he is not doing well, why would any team want him?

Zozo said...

IMO I think it's just "Your Damned if you Do"...

Too many 2nd base options that would have been close to on par with Walkers numbers for this year. That money should have been spent in Centerfield and and at catcher, that would have been wiser.

Carlos Gomez and Ramos (or Weiters) would of been by preferred allocation of that money.

Adam Smith said...

Clearly, they like the guy, in the clubhouse as well as on the field. Clearly too, they believe he can play 3B if they need him. But $17.2mm is a lot of money when you're on a budget and you've got reasonably talented (and cheaper) options at the position, and he's got a back issue. I agree that if the team is doing well (and he's doing well) there's no way they risk trading him, so the only way you get anything back for him in-season is if he's hitting but the team stinks, in which case you didn't need to sign him in the first place. I did notice the chatter about extending him a couple of weeks ago, but sounds like their only incentive was to move some of this year's payroll off into the future, as much as anything else, and his people were't interested. All of that said, it'll be interesting to see what if any part he plays going forward if DW turns out to be finished. As I said up top, indo think the FO likes the guy.

Anonymous said...

Think about this BP if the Mets wanted to shut the games down.
Reed, Famila, Chapman.

I could have been had they not signed Walker.


Mack Ade said...

As many of you know, I always thought that Cecchini was too rigid to play short. You need the fastest legs and the strongest arm to play that position to the max.

That being said, I am very happy so far with his conversion to second so far this spring and he could be the long term answer to this, what seems to be, chronic problem, playing second.

Let's see what Walker does through June...

Eddie Corona said...

I agree with everyone who contributed to this article except with the argument that we do not have a 2b Prospect... We have tons of 2b options for this ear and the future... Cecchini, A. Cabrera, TJ, Reyes, Flores, Heck Reynolds, and ty kelly could also be viewed as options...
I believe Cecchini and Herrera can both be similar players... would be very interesting how they both progress... I can see Cecchini having a Neil Walker type career...

Robb said...

His contract really doesnt seem to be a problem. Im not sure what the mets would have done differently with the money this off season and its not like he's blocking mike trout from playing second base. 1 year deals dont really hurt teams no matter the cost. They were never going into the closer market. Dont need a starter and its not like there was a better second baseman out there. even the relievers available its pick your poison on 8th inning guys.

They changed the QO rules so this is not a situation the mets will be going through next year, but regardless the Mets will have plenty of money should they want to do this again, just with Granderson, bruce and duda all being in the last year of their deals. (35mm+) not including his own salary (so 50mm in total). And who among us really thinks that D wright is long for baseball?

Mack Ade said...

Eddie -

Cecchini IS a prospect, but he is NOT a second base prospect... yet.

Eddie Corona said...

I subscribe that a SS prospect can play anywhere in the infield... I cannot think of a single guys who came up as a SS Prospect that couldn't play 2b...
If D murphy can butcher on by I wouldnt be worried about Cecchini... Now he just has to Hit...

TP said...

I am in 100% agreement with Robb.

I'm not sure why there is so much concern or opposition over the Walker deal. I am not Wilpon fan, but my only concerns regarding payroll are 1. are they providing the fans with a quality product that has no glaring weaknesses and 2. did an individual salary signing cause them to not acquire a specific player to fill a bigger need.

In Walker's case, sure $17 million coming off back surgery is questionable, but I don't care. He makes them better and did not cost the team any other specific acquisition. This was a good signing, and like all others, time will tell regarding the value they get for the money.

Mack's Mets © 2012