Unrealistic Trade Target: Neil Walker
With the Mets on the verge of losing Daniel Murphy, there’s a lot of holes left behind: (1) a middle infielder; (2) a left handed bat; and a (3) middle of the order bat. With prospects like Dilson Herrera, you’d prefer the player to be on a short term basis.
Right now the Pirates are shopping a player that fits this mold: the switch-hitting Neil Walker. He’s a career .272/.338/.431. He has an OPS+ of 113. He has a career WAR of 16.4 or an average WAR of 2.3 per season. His wRC+ is 114. Long story short, he’s an above average baseball player. It makes you question why the Pirates are shopping the hometown kid?
Well, there’s two issues. The first is he’s not a good defensive second baseman. While he may be a better hitter than Murphy, he’s a worse fielder. Walker has averaged a -5.3 UZR, which means he’s definitively below average at the position. He’s also not getting any better posting consecutive -6.8 seasons.
After this the bigger issue is money, which is the same reason the Pirates are shopping him. He’s due to earn $10.7 million next year. He will be a free agent after the year. On top of that, you need to trade for him.
If the Mets interest in Ben Zobrist is real, they can afford Walker for a year. If the Pirates are reasonable, the Mets should trade for him. He will fit many needs, and he won’t block the path of the Mets prospects. Who knows? If he has a good year, the Mets could offer him a Qualifying Offer and met another draft pick thereby offsetting some of the cost it took to acquire him.
Overall, Neil Walker would be a good fit for the Mets no matter how unrealistic the possibility of his addition may be.