The Mets moved onto Plan B after losing Ben Zobrist, reportedly dealing Jonathon Niese to the Pirates Wednesday for second baseman Neil Walker.
The 30-year-old Walker is a solid hitter. He batted .269 last season, with 16 home runs and 71 RBIs. He hit a career high 23 homers in 2014. MLB Trade Rumors says he “profiles more as an average to below-average defender.” Still, he has to be better than Daniel Murphy, whom he replaces at second. So his Mets career is over.
So is Niese’s, who will be remembered fondly for his eight years in Flushing. But all of the young pitchers squeezed him out of the rotation, so he was not necessary anymore.
The money is about even — Neil Walker will likely get around $10 million in his final year of arbitration, while Niese is signed for $9 million. Both can be free agents after 2016.
This is a very good deal for the Mets. For a superfluous pitcher, they fill a much-needed spot in the field and in the lineup. The only thing I don’t like is what this means for Dilson Herrera. I think Herrera will be a star and he seems ready for the big time. Maybe the Mets will use him as trade bait for a big bat. Or maybe they disagree with my assessment and think he needs more seasoning down in the minors.
Either way, an excellent move by the Mets.