The Mets have issued a qualifying offer to second baseman Neil Walker, as MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo tweets. It’s no surprise to learn, too, that outfielder Yoenis Cespedes has also been extended the one-year, $17.2MM offer.
Walker was an obvious QO call before he underwent season-ending back surgery. But initial signs have been promising, with the veteran explaining that the procedure addressed a long-standing issue and ought to make it easier for him to perform going forward.
New York got exactly what it hoped for when it dealt Jon Niese to pick up the final season left on Walker’s deal. Now 31, the switch-hitting Walker provided 458 plate appearances of .282/.347/.476 hitting and popped 23 home runs on the year. It’s important to note, too, that Walker showed improvement in the field in 2016. Though he typically rates as a below-average defender, he ended the year with a neutral rating from DRS and a strong 11.1 runs saved by measure of UZR.
That overall output didn’t quite match the work of his predecessor, Daniel Murphy, who had a breakout year in his new digs in D.C. But it made Walker a quality everyday regular at a position of need, which is why he could end up returning. Whether the sides explore a multi-year arrangement over the coming week, while Walker considers the QO, remains to be seen, but a return could well make sense for both sides. If not, Walker will be an interesting free agent to watch, as teams weigh the injury uncertainty against his history of steady offensive production from an up-the-middle position.