Mets have expressed, ‘lukewarm’ interest in Neil Walker
The Mets have made free agent Ben Zobrist their top free agent target this winter, but they know all too well there are no guarantees they will sign him, as there are at least six teams in the mix for his services.
The Mets have said Daniel Murphy is one possibility as a fallback option, but he’s also said the club would be comfortable giving the second base job to Dilson Herrera.
But the Mets might also be exploring fallback options on the trade market as well, as they’re expressing some level of interest in Pirates 2B Neil Walker (Biertempfel, Pittsburgh Tribune).
Their interest is described as, “lukewarm,” presumably because their primary interest is in signing Zobrist.
Walker, 30, is under team control until 2017, as he’s entering his third year of arbitration eligibility this winter. He was a super-two player in 2014, which gave him four years of arbitration. He earned $8 million in 2015, and he could earn between $9-11 million in 2016 through arbitration.
Walker would probably be considered a moderate downgrade to Murphy offensively, only because he strikes out more. But he’s still an above average offensive player who is a switch hitter with good power from the left side.
He struggles defensively, as he’s consistently a below average second baseman year after year. He doesn’t commit a lot of errors, but he lacks in both range and foot speed, much like Wilmer Flores does at both second base and shortstop. That alone could be a deal breaker considering the Mets have enough problems on the other side of second base.
Having said that, beggars can’t be choosers, and if the Mets aren’t ready to commit to Herrera (and their pursuit of Zobrist is an indication of that), then the Mets need to make any and all considerations.