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The Neil Walker Conundrum

Within five days of the end of the World Series, the Mets will have to make one of their biggest decisions of the off-season — whether to extend a qualifying offer to Neil Walker. That decision could have severe ramifications for the rest of the winter.

neil walker
Will Mets make Neil Walker qualifying offer?

This year’s qualifying offer is worth $17.2 million. Coming off back surgery, it is conceivable that Walker takes the money. At age 31, the best offer Walker could probably expect is a three-year deal, likely at a Daniel Murphy-like $36 million. He can make nearly half of that in one season, prove he is completely healthy, and probably get the same $36 million next off-season. Having Walker back would answer the question of who’s on second (I thought who was on first!). So win-win for everyone.

However, let’s get back to that $17.2 million. That’s a big number, especially for a team which might not have that much spare money to throw around. Giving that money to Neil Walker could preclude the Mets from spending to improve other areas of the team, like catching. And if Walker is not healthy? That is big DL or ineffective money, especially if David Wright and his $20 million end up joining him on those lists. So the risks may be too great.

Would Neil Walker at $17.2 million be that much more of an improvement over Wilmer Flores at an estimated $1.5 million in his first year of arbitration? Walker is a better player than Flores, but is he $16 million better? Could that money be better spent elsewhere? These are questions with which Sandy Alderson is likely struggling.

In the end, I think they will make him the offer; the lure of getting an extra draft choice is too enticing. And Walker will likely turn it down; the lure of the possibility of many more millions is even more enticing. Still though, both decisions can easily go the other way. Such is the fun off the MLB off-season.

2 thoughts on “The Neil Walker Conundrum

  • frank from jersey

    If money were not an issue, i would love to have Walker back because i think his back will be fine and i also think Wright will once again be very limited. I’d like to slide Walker into 3b when that happens and have either Flores, Rivera or Reyes be at second while the others are the infield depth (play the hot hand if need be at 2b). Oh the same token, if i could get a lockdown late inning guy for walkers money that would be attractive also.

    What do you think?

  • MetFan4Life

    I think it is time to stop making excuses for the Coupons and how much money they don’t have to spend on making the Mets into a perennial contender. If they cannot afford to put the best possible team on the field in the biggest sports media market in the world, they need to sell the team to someone who can.

    That said, having an embarrassment of riches is something we only experienced once TJ RIvera came up and showed that he can hit ML pitching as well as he did Mile High AAA pitching. Before that, we were operating on a near-threadbare bench (part of the problem there being Terry feeling that he has to have a 13 man pitching staff). Having Walker sewn up, whether through a new contract or a QO, is not a bad plan. This gives a lot of flexibility to work out the best possible team next year.

    Now, as to where he plays, moving him to 3B is a fine idea, but what to do with Reyes? While he is not an archetypal third baseman, he does provide range, a good arm, and speed. So, a good field, good hit, good speed, lesser power third baseman? How is that a bad thing? Met fans covet Prado and guys like that – 12-15 HR power, .270-.290 AVG. Why not give up a little of that power at 3B and instead accept 15-30 stolen bases plus 10 HR and perhaps even double digit triples?

    So, here is what I would think about Walker – in addition to second and possibly third, try him at first base. It would be easier on his back, he already plays the right side of the infield, he has shown himself to have 20+ HR power. Perhaps having him play first gives us flexibility to consider Duda and/or Flores to be trade bait. Packaged with a pitcher or two, we might be able to bring back a catcher who can hit and throw.

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