12:10pm: The Mets believe their extension talks with Walker are “probably dead,” Mike Puma of the New York Post tweets.
10:21am: Mets GM Sandy Alderson has recently met with Neil Walker’s representatives to work out a contract extension, but talks have recently “hit a snag,” Newsday’s Marc Carig writes. The issue, it seems, is the second baseman’s already-in-place $17.2MM 2017, which he locked in when he accepted the Mets’ qualifying offer last November. It appears the Mets wanted Walker to restructure his 2017 salary as a condition of the extension, in order to free up funds for this year’s club.
Recent reports have suggested an extension for Walker could be in the three-year, $40MM range. If such a deal were to include 2017, that would essentially amount to an extra two years and $22.8MM for Walker. That’s a significant commitment from the Mets’ perspective, but the price also seems reasonable given that Walker’s $17.2MM is already on the books. Walker had season-ending back surgery in September, but as Craig points out, the Mets’ willingness to extend him, and to give the qualifying offer in the first place, reflect confidence that Walker’s health won’t be a major hindrance going forward.
Walker hit a strong .282/.347/.476 in his first season with the Mets after arriving from Pittsburgh in a trade in the 2015-16 offseason. His defensive numbers also took a turn for the better in New York after years of average to below-average showings with the Pirates. If Walker were to continue to perform well in the coming year, he would enter the 2017-18 offseason as one of the most valuable free-agent infielders available. 2017 will be Walker’s age-31 season, however, and both his age and health record will surely be considerations as the Mets ponder extending him.