The Mets' infield holes are glaring and while much of the second base buzz early in the offseason has centered on the trade block, they will also be considering a number of available free agents, though the market is relatively weak at this position.
Generally considered the top second baseman available, Neil Walker remains an intriguing reunion possibility the Mets will be looking at.
Walker put up strong numbers in his year and a half in a Mets uniform, with a .275/.344/.462 slash line with 33 home runs across 186 games. These represented improvements from his production with the Pirates as well as improvements on the production provided to the Mets by his predecessor (back when Daniel Murphy was a mere mortal).
Walker didn't miss a beat after being traded to the Brewers midseason and finished 2017 strong and, more importantly, healthy.
Health has long been the biggest concern surrounding Walker, and at 32 years old, that shadow is here to stay. He missed significant chunks of time over the past two years due to a back injury, despite having been reliably healthy in Pittsburgh. While his injury is nowhere near the "spinal stenosis" side of the spectrum, it raises a red flag and is the kind of thing that can sometimes lead to other injuries if he's playing through pain.
On top of concerns about missing time, Walker's injury history may also soon begin to weigh him down on the field. As a Met, he outplayed his reputation as a poor defender, but he is at the very best average currently and not likely to improve at this stage of his career. In 2017, he briefly saw some time at both first base and third base, but he doesn't have nearly enough of a sample at either spot to give an indication of whether he can perform there reliably.
Outside of his bat, an all-around solid tool which has shown no signs of slowing down, Walker has a lot of warts for a player at the top of the heap for his position. For better or worse, those warts will drive down a price that, in this market, could have been wildly out of line with what you can expect from him.
Walker is projected to receive two or three years at around $10-12 million per year -- a relative bargain if you think he can stay on the field for the most part. If the Mets do, and they probably have a better sense than any other team, a reunion could make sense to both sides.
Maggie Wiggin (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Archive Posts) has been a Mets fan since birth and a MetsBlog contributor since 2013. She loves throwing hard and hitting hard and hates the DH. When baseball is out of season, she fills her days with data analysis and evaluation and patiently waits for Spring