On Monday, second baseman Neil Walker accepted the Mets’ one-year, $17.2 million qualifying offer. He will now be back in Queens for the 2017 season.
Instead of rejecting the offer and testing the free agent market, Walker decided to take it. The 31-year-old batted .282 with 23 home runs and 55 RBIs in 113 games this past season. His season was cut short however, as he needed to have surgery to repair a herniated disk in early September.
The Mets can now breathe a sigh of relief. Re-signing Walker was one of the main priorities of the offseason for them. The team has already made a few moves, including picking up contract options for next year on outfielder Jay Bruce and infielder Jose Reyes. With Walker back, the Mets no longer need to worry about their infield for next season.
Now that Reyes and Walker are both officially returning for the 2017 season, the Mets now have a good idea of what their infield is going to look like. Reyes will be the team’s everyday third baseman. This is a position that he became familiar with after signing with the Mets in June of this year. Walker will be the main second baseman for the team. Asdrubal Cabrera will continue to be the starting shortstop. He fielded his position very well this past season, and also hit .280 with 23 homers and 62 RBIs. Lucas Duda will resume his role as the Mets’ starting first baseman. Duda missed significant time over the course of the 2016 season due to a stress fracture in his lower back.
Reyes, Cabrera and Walker are all switch-hitters, which is another added benefit for the Mets. This gives manager Terry Collins more of a reason to start these three players everyday. As for the left-handed hitting Duda, he will probably still start at first base for the majority of the Mets’ games next season. Utility infielder Wilmer Flores will most likely be his backup, and will get playing time when the team faces a left-handed pitcher. Flores can really play anywhere in the infield. He will be the Mets’ go-to guy when someone needs a day off.
Now that Walker has been re-signed, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson can now focus all of his attention on bringing back Yoenis Cespedes. Unlike Walker, Cespedes declined the Mets’ qualifying offer. A few other teams are reportedly interested in signing him. If Alderson is able to ink Cespedes to a long-term contract, then the offseason will definitely be deemed a success for his team.