SEPT. 1: Walker will indeed undergo a microdisectomy operation to repair the herniation in his back which comes with a best-case scenario of a three-month recovery, per ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin. Doctors strongly recommended the procedure to him because of the potential for additional weakness and numbness in his lower half. Walker has been experiencing numbness in his toes and is still unable to feel one of them to this day due to the fact that the disk in his back is pressing against a nerve, per the New York Times’ James Wagner (Twitter link).
AUG. 31Mets second baseman Neil Walker is “probably opting for surgery” to repair the herniated disk in his back, manager Terry Collins told reporters after tonight’s game (Twitter link via MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo). Clearly, that will end the season for the free-agent-to-be.
News of Walker’s herniated disk broke earlier this morning, and while GM Sandy Alderson originally expressed some optimism, manager Terry Collins said prior to tonight’s contest that surgery was an option, though the team and Walker were waiting on a second opinion before making a final decision. That decision, now, looks to have been made, and it comes as a significant blow for a Mets team that topped the Marlins tonight and currently sits just two games back of the second Wild Card spot in the National League.
Walker, 30, has been one of the Mets’ best hitters in 2016, batting .282/.347/.476 with 23 home runs in 458 plate appearances. With the switch-hitter removed from the picture, the Mets can turn to a combination of Kelly Johnson, Wilmer Flores, Jose Reyes and T.J. Rivera to share time between third base and second base.
From Walker’s standpoint, the injury represents a poor way to wrap up what has been an otherwise outstanding contract year. He’ll now enter free agency with the specter of a notable surgery hanging over him and without any in-game setting via which to demonstrate his health to interested parties. Walker has been included in the top 10 on MLBTR’s Free Agent Power Rankings on multiple occasions over the course of the season, though the surgery certainly diminishes his earning power on the open market. It could also make the Mets a bit more hesitant to tender a qualifying offer to Walker following the season, though I’d still wager they’ll be making the offer, as a one-year deal for Walker following a full offseason of recovery is hardly an unappealing outcome for the team.