Mets 2B Neil Walker said that while he's enjoyed his time playing with the Mets, he hopes to explore other options when he becomes a free agent this offseason.
"Everything is an option right now. We're looking at several different options," Walker said, according to Daily News reporter Kristie Ackert. "Like I said, this is a good fit and this looks good, but we don't know what else is out there. We don't know where teams might be coming from. The free agent market is kind of weak, especially at the infield position, so you never know what could happen."
Walker, 31, hit .282 with 23 home runs and 55 RBI in 113 games during his first season with the Mets before his season ended due to a back injury, which eventually required surgery.
"Given the injury and the success rate coming back from this injury, I'd say it's not going to affect me at all," Walker said about his ability to play next season. "In talking to several people, including my agent, they think the same."
Based on conversations with MLB insiders, FanRag's Jon Heyman recently predicted that Walker might find himself signing a two-year, $24 million deal this winter.
The team's future at second changed after trading 2B prospect Dilson Herrera to the Reds for Jay Bruce. Because, prior to that deal, it was assumed the Mets would let Walker go, and Herrera would take over in his place. The same thinking likely impacted their decision to let go of Daniel Murphy, who wanted (and got) a three-year deal.
Instead of giving the long-term commitment to Murphy, they let him walk, then traded for a year of Walker to bide time until Herrera was ready to take over in 2017. However, Murphy is now in DC, Herrera is with Cincinnati and Walker is on the DL. Now what?
I assume Walker will want a contract similar to the three-year deal Murphy signed with the Nationals. According to ESPN's Buster Olney, assuming they don't change the rules, MLB estimates that the 2017 qualifying offer will be priced at $16.7 million, up $900,000 from last year. It had been a no-brainer that the Mets would make Walker the offer, which he would have certainly declined, meaning the Mets would have picked up an extra draft pick when he signed with a new team. Now, though, coming off season-ending back surgery, it's very possible he'd accept it...
My hunch is the Mets would prefer to go in to next season with Asdrubal Cabrera and Jose Reyes up the middle, especially with Reyes hitting leadoff, doing well and earning the league minimum. Wilmer Flores would then back up all four infield positions, with Amed Rosario and Gavin Cecchini in the minor leagues ready in case of emergency. The point is, as good as he was when on the field, Walker doesn't fit in to that scenario, because the Mets have options.