On Monday, the Mets announced they had extended a qualifying offer to Neil Walker (as well as Yoenis Cespedes, of course). Sandy Alderson said he would not mind if Walker took the offer. But what would that do to the rest of the Mets off-season planning?
It would not be a shock if Walker took the offer. After all, he is coming off back surgery, so he could be viewed as something of a question mark. Also, it is for $17.2 million dollars. There is no way Walker will get that kind of average salary on a multi-year deal.
Let’s say Walker takes the offer and the Mets are able to resign Cespedes at $25 million per year — wishful thinking, I know, but let’s use that number for the sake of this exercise. That would put the Mets estimated payroll at about $155 million. The Mets have never spent that much money, not even during the Madoff-fueled Minaya era. There is no reason to think they would spend that much now. My guess is the Mets will want to keep the payroll at around $140 million.
So where to trim? Well, that figure includes $10 million for Bartolo Colon, so he would likely not be re-signed. The Mets might also try shipping Jay Bruce and his $13 million elsewhere. Bruce was acquired partly as insurance if Cespedes leaves, and with Cespedes in the fold, Bruce would become an expensive insurance policy.
Personally, I would prefer to see Lucas Duda and his estimated $8 million salary sent far, far away from Flushing and Bruce installed at first. Alderson said there is not even a thought of non-tendering Duda, which is a mistake, in my opinion. Duda has been given every chance to succeed and while he has shown flashes of excellence, overall he has been mediocre. Time to cut the cord.
Having Neil Walker back would not be a terrible thing — he was very good, if not streaky, in 2016. But his return could have an impact on the rest of the winter.