Mets Should Sign Neil Walker

Certainly, when you look at any free agent, there are a number of things you can look to pick apart.  When looking at former Mets second baseman Neil Walker, you need not look at his recent health history.  He needed back surgery in 2016, and last year, he missed a large chunk of time due to a partially torn hamstring.

Even with the injury issues, Walker has been a productive player when on the field.  In 111 games last year, Walker hit .265/.362/.439 with 14 homers and 49 RBI.  The one caution you would have with him is that he showed 2016 was a blip as he returned to struggling against left-handed pitching.

To that end, Walker would be the perfect fit for the current Mets roster.

Based upon their production there last year, the Mets have three players ill-suited to playing second base everyday with Asdrubal Cabrera (-6 DRS), Wilmer Flores (-1 DRS), and Jose Reyes (-5 DRS).  What is interesting about this group is all three of them struggle against right-handed pitching.  Heading into Opening Day, Cabrera is the starter, but based upon recent history, we can count for the Mets playing dozens of players at the position.

Given the defensive issues and platoon splits, it would behoove the Mets to add Walker to the mix.  He’d be another body who can give them games, and he’s a well suited platoon candidate with any of the aforementioned incumbent second baseman.

Realistically speaking, that will never happen.  The Mets are paying Cabrera $8.5 million, and based upon how the Mets operate, they are not likely going to put that on the bench.  The organization also has a soft spot for both Flores and Reyes.  So no, the Mets are not going to bring a player to play second base over them; not even Walker, who was productive as a Met when he was on the field.

However, the team does not owe the same loyalties to Adrian Gonzalez.

The soon to be 36 year old first baseman is coming off an injury riddled year himself where he hit just .242/.287/.355 with three homers and 30 RBI in 71 games.  With him starting off the Spring going 2-15, he’s not exactly inspiring confidence he will bounce back.

With the Mets being a month away from Spring Training, you have to really question if he’s ever going to rediscover who he was three years ago.  With him looking more and more like a player who is closer to retirement and Dominic Smith having a Spring which has combined being late and injured, the Mets should at least investigate the free agent market.

If he wants to pull a Todd Zeile, Walker could sign on with the Mets to play first base.  If not, Todd Frazier has experience there, which would allow the Mets to put Walker at third base.  When Dom is ready, or when injuries inevitably befall the Mets, the team would have some versatility with Walker.  He likely could slot in at any infield position but short.

With Walker still on the market and likely available for a discount, this is something the Mets should definitely be considering.  Ultimately, it may prove to be a better option that rolling the dice on Gonzalez and the three internal second basemen.

Editor’s Note: Hat tip to Rob Piersall whose tweet inspired this post

21 thoughts on “Mets Should Sign Neil Walker”

  1. Steve says:

    other than placing someone on the 60 day DL, who spot would you recommend Walker take?

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Wright can go on the 60 day DL

  2. OldBackstop says:

    I assume Rob Piersall is Neil Walker’s brother-in-law?

    Walker has started eight (8) game starts at first base in the majors, 17 at third base, zero at SS, zero in the OF. Any new IF on this squad would have to have positional flexibility, preferably including OF. Everybody on the damn team has played second and first — Gonzalez, Smith, Bruce, Frazier, Flores, Cabrera.have more major league starts than Walker at first base.

    You often cite DRS numbers for Flores, Reyes and Cabrera at second…..those guys all came up as SS. They have never been given steady day-to-day work to get strong with the glove at second….with their SS backgrounds, I think they will all improve on their early 2nd base performances.

    And Walker is not coming for the major league minimum like AGon or $2 mil like Reyes. He was estimated at 2/$24 in the beginning of the season. The Royals and Orioles are still buzzing around.

    And he has back issues that clearly affected his range and power.and have had him miss one third of the past two seasons..

    Just because Duda and Walker need(ed) jobs doesn’t mean they fit here….Rusty Staub needs a job if you want sentimentality. He can play first.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      1. Ron is a fine writer at

      2. Walker would be the only player on the team who could capably play second.

      3. The chances of the three improving at second are remote. The chances they play a better second than Walker are nil.

      4. I’m looking for upgrades over that the Mets have. Gonzalez and Cabrera are a nightmare right side of the infield. No one should be alright with it.

      1. OldBackstop says:

        There is no scenario in which Gonzalez is a “nightmare” at first. And how many Gold Gloves does he have? 4? 5? If he is healthy and returns to merely 2016 form, he is one of our best first basemen in a long time. If he doesn’t who cares? .Everybody on the damn team places first base.

        Gothamist put it well. Walker is a fading second base glove with injury issues the last two years. He brings zero to the team.’s needs….not speed, not youth, not positional flexibility, not payroll value. He’d have no future at his age and would cock. a number of younger players.

        He made $17 mil last year. Even in a fire sale he will cost more than Wilmer, Cecchini, AGon, Smith and Rosario combined.

        Nice clubhouse guy, but we don’t need another white 30-something vet to be a leader.

        The only thing that showed wisdom in this post was ascribing the idea to someone else.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          Gonzalez is coming off a significant back injury that’s not healed, and he’s turning 36. If you don’t think that’s a recipe for a nightmare, you’re mistaken.

          Also, if you think Walker brings nothing to the Mets, you either have the wrong impression about the state of this Mets roster, misunderstand how he compliments what the Mets already have, or both.

    2. Five Tool Ownership says:

      Duda will never DH in the AL.
      He will be an All Star.
      The Mets should have resigned him and Neil Walker.
      Cut Travis for Rene Rivera,
      Amed Rosario will get 40 doubles this year,
      They should cut Reyes, Cechini and Cabrera.
      Start Wilmer at second and use Ty Kelly as utility.
      Steve Matz will win 18 games
      Ty will become a poor man’s Ben Zobrist

      1. metsdaddy says:

        1. Duda should DH if a team has better defensive option. Most teams don’t.

        2. No one ever made the case Duda is an All Star.

        3. Given the Mets current roster situation, Duda and Walker should be re-signed. Personally, I would’ve done the Kipnis deal and brought in Matt Adams.

        4. The Mets are better with TdA than Rivera.

        5. Rosario is not a 40 doubles type of player.

        6. Reyes should be cut. Cecchini should be given time in Triple-A. Cabrera should be a utility player.

        7. Wilmer at second is a better option than Cabrera at this point. Ty Kelly is good Triple-A depth.

        8. I’d caution against Matz making 18 starts let alone winning 18 games.

        9. That’s a really poor Zobrist.

  3. Gothamist says:

    Neil Walker?


    Ok, I get that these spring games are making you desperate, I get it!
    But relying more on the home run?

    Duda is a platoon DH…
    Keeping him would have been beyond stupidity…
    The Mets dumped Murph for partly they could not count on his fielding in a playoff game. Duda would score a 15 on a Wonderlic!
    He is a disaster making decisions on s fly..
    Like Cespedes he does not hit A pitchers and his splits after inning six suck!
    He took $3.5 m and you thought $8-10m
    Sometimes you can be wrong, dead wrong…
    You think you are perfect?
    You cried for Rosario last May!
    Rosario msy start in AAA, his pitch judgment is not MLB yet…
    No one on any blog or newspaper saw Duda as a returnee.
    I rather use Cabrera or Guillorme as a first baseman.
    Dom Smith will surprise ….

    Cespedes is a five hitter, the only contract offer he received was deferred money from Rizzo and Ted Lerner..

    Cespedes is a nicer (guy) version of Melo…


    The Mets will have trouble beating the Phillies by seven games in 2018.

    Why do you think the Nats gave up so much for Eaton?
    They stole the other kid from the Padres and Mike Taylor is legit.
    Tbey may win 100 games if Eaton is injury free..
    They have table setters!

    Ssh…. no chat chat, let us compare notes later…

    1. metsdaddy says:

      1. Duda is not a DH. He’s a good first baseman.

      2. If you’re going to criticize people, maybe don’t suggest the 5’9” Guillorme, a player who could be the organization’s best middle infielder, for first base.

  4. OldBackstop says:


    You regularly cite DRS (Defensive Runs Saved), but I think you are massively misapplying it to the Mets infield.

    First off, you can’t fairly apply it to a guy the year or two after he is shunted to a new position where he can reasonably be expected to learn and improve, based on a hundred games or whatever. Surely you agree with that? Imagine you are a professional athlete who has played third base all his life and is moved to second. Wouldn’t you reasonably expect his second year to improve on his first year at a new position, and his second to improve on his first? Be honest.

    Secondly, this is the judgement you are citing on Cabrera, Wilmer, and Reyes, who all has started at SS, and then were put in positions all around the infield, third, second, first. They are SS level athletes, they are up to the physical challenges of these lesser spectrum positions, it is reasonable to think they may have some trouble actually are put in games at full speed rather than drills.

    Walker, on the other hand, has been only at second base was never a SS level athlete. He has had injuries the last two years of the type likely to effect the future range of a player in his 30s — a hamstring and a back surgery. Playing almost exclusively at second, Walker’s dWAR has steadily declined over the past five years, from plus 1.2 to a minus 0.2 (although that is nearly irrelevant as I will explain.). At Age 32 with the injuries there is absolutely no reasonable expectation that he will reverse these declining numbers. (dWAR, by the way, is a second generation stat evolved from DRS. DRS was invented way back in 2003.)

    Now, DRS. You are grabbing on to extremely small samples at positions by Wilmer, Cabrera and Reyes. John Dewan, the inventor of the stat, cautions thusly:.

    “”The other thing to remember is that DRS isn’t going to work well in small sample sizes, especially a couple of months or less. Once you get to one and three-year samples, it’s a relatively solid metric but defensive itself is quite variable so you need a good amount of data for the metrics to become particularly useful.””

    Another point is these metrics include the human factor of grading by observers, a margin of error baked in the cake right there, like a sloppy political poll.

    Now, you cite DRS along the lines of Wilmer is -1, but this other guy is minus 5. That number is insignificant. By the DRS grading stem, you aren’t a Gold Glove until you are plus 15, or considered “awful” (as opposed to poor,) at minus -15. The grading chart is st Fangraphs for your review.

    So….a 26 year old former SS like Wilmer, moving to a lesser spectrum position like second base, can reasonably be expected to improve as he continues in his physical prime years and gets a comfort level of a few years. Conversely, a 32 year old regularly injured player like Walker, who has shown decline even at his regular second base position, can reasonably be expected to continue to decline. While older than Flores, both Cabrera and Reyes were healthy last year, the two of them leading the team in games played, they move into positions less physically demanding than their original SS.

    Sidenote: in terms of injuries, there are studies out there on the unlikely track record of guys missing 50 games in consecutive seasons in their early 30s — it is statistically unlikely they will return to full year contributors.

    But the main point is that you are citing differences of four or five points which are all actually clustered in the same grade and are roughed out anyway, as stated in the quote above by their creator Dewan.

    To reliably us the stat for insight they way you attempt to, the scenario would have to look something like this:

    “Wilmer and Walker, both 28 year olds who have played the same position for the last four healthy years, grade to a plus 11 and a minus 11, demonstrating a significant difference that one could reasonably expect to continue to the next few years if they continue at the same position.”

    Anyway, thanks for drawing my attention to this so I could go get a refresher.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      I say this time and again. You not liking my conclusions is not the same thing as me misapplying or misunderstanding something. I’ll prove it out by addressing your comments.

      1. Cabrera, Flores, and Reyes are all middle infielders by trade and have played second base extensively at some point in their careers. They’re not TdA out there. Let’s not over apologize for a SS being asked to play second.

      2. Flores was never a SS level athlete. Cabrera and Reyes aren’t anymore. And just because Walker never was, it doesn’t mean he’s automatically a worse option.

      3. Here’s the problem with your DRS sample size rebuttal – we have a large sample size proving none of Cabrera, Flores, or Reyes are good defenders. It’s been nearly a decade since any of them has posted a positive DRS at any position. So far, you’ve presented nothing showing why anyone of those players would suddenly post a positive DRS at second in the upcoming season.

  5. Gothamist says:

    Great points yet I do not see a nucleus.

    I am wondering about Wilmer’s flexibility or if he is remotely fast twitch for any position.
    I rather have TJ’s clutch bat with fewer dingers against Pittsburgh.
    I believe that Cabrera, TJ, Conforto or even Cespedes will become better contributors only in the leadoff spot.
    Rotate the line up.
    I was so happy Duda turned down the three year deal.
    I do not want him on my playoff roster!!!!!


    1. metsdaddy says:

      Wilmer is flexible in that he knows how to play all infield positions, but he struggles at all but first.

      I like TJ, but he’s not ready right now.

      Conforto, Nimmo, and Cabrera are currently the best leadoff options.

      Duda is a good, not great player. Mets went to a WS with him.

      1. Gothamist says:

        I saw a Duda in the playoffs and I was really embarrassed for him.

        How many Met free agents since the 2015 WS was aggressively pursued by any team?

        The nucleus is not even close.
        In my view the spring invitees of non 40 merit are all pitchers except for one infielder.

        They Mets in Duda’s next five years will never have the more at other positions to compensate for having the less of having Duda.
        The less of having Wilmer, Neil Walker or TdA either….

        Watching Wilmer’s reflexes playing third base not only has no comparison to a better Murph but are a clear liability and last I checked there is no parallel to Kevin Mitchell playing SS.

        The more or total sum is about beating Washington for tne division.

        So it is now about competing agsinst AZ Col LA SF St L etc for a wild card spot…


        1. metsdaddy says:

          1. Willie Mays was a horrible postseason player.

          2. None, but we saw Murphy become an MVP caliber player after leaving.

          3. No one said to sign Duda for five years.

          4. If Callaway and Eiland fixes the pitching, this is a World Series team

  6. OldBackstop says:

    Hi Metsdaddy,

    I’m not kneejerking to your conclusions, I am discussing the underlying facts you build them with, (which you do responsibly). I’m looking at this as an educational exercise….I had to refresh myself learn about DRS as you built your conclusion upon it. No conflict here, just fan debate :-)..

    MD:””””1. Cabrera, Flores, and Reyes are all middle infielders by trade and have played second base extensively at some point in their careers..”””

    Middle infielders all, yeah, but no way can you equate game experience at on position to another, and DRS specifically recognizes that. The inventor of the stat says above you need several or three years to judge somebody at a position. Let’s call it 350 games. I’m sure Dewan was talking about a linear stint, as central to the formula is a position adjustment. So for DRS to be a relevant stat you are looking for 350 consecutive games as a starter.

    Flores achieved ones of the greatest feats of athleticism in the world — he made the majors as a shortstop. He was the Mets main shortstop in 2015. But his number one position in terms of games isn’t second base, that isn’t even the second in terms of experience. He hasn’t started 350 consecutive games at second base he has only started 71, spread over four years.

    Cabrera, same story. Made the majors as a shortstop, has over a thousand games there and a two time All Star, but he has only sporadically played second base, a hundred and 50 or so back in 2007-2008, another 90 in the nine years since.. Nothing approaching the 350 as a consecutive starter ou would need to judge with DRS.

    Reyes, of course, was a starting MLB shortstop for many years, an All Star more than once, but has only 71 games at second base (same as Wilmer). some back in 2004, some last year.

    We have three guys there who were starting shortstops in the major leagues for different teams three years ago. All three of these guys, great athletes, are shifting to a position that is less physically demanding in reaction time, range, time to release the ball, and arm strength.

    But they simply do not have the time at second to assess their true DRS results.

    Now let’s look at Walker. He’s a middle infielder, but nobody has ever thought he had the athleticism, range, arm, or reactions to move up the spectrum to SS — he doesn’t have a single major league start there in nine seasons in the majors. His career dWAR all in is only a barely positive 0.4, and is a negative 0.1 combined since 2013, with the last two being negative.

    He hasn;t got in a complete season the last two years. For his Age 32 year, there is no way you can expect him to suddenly become a plus defender….you can’t point to experience at a more demanding position and say he will adjust and learn second base and inprove..

    Your argument is like saying Lagares has some errors and worse fielding stats than Bruce in a sporadic 71 starts in rightfield here and there, so in conclusion Bruce will be a better glove in right for the next three years. .
    It isn’t just a question of whether Walker is a better defender than those three, and I don’t think there is any reason to think he would be by any significant margin. It is a question of whether he will be, say, $8 million dollars better, for a guy that can’t play short, has little experience at third, none at first, and none in the outfield.

    So, for that, we are going to take playing time from Reyes, Wilmer and Cabrera. Wilmer, who had an .862 OPS against lefties last year, Cabrera, who has hit .280 the past two years, and Reyes, a former batting champ who was fifth in the NL last year in SBs and our best offensive gut in the last months of 2017..

    And I haven’t even brought Cheech and Guiloorma into it, who are looking great and who would likely be shoved to AAA all year.

    It doesn’t make sense on any level. If it does, you’ll have to explain it in some way other than DRS, because there is no reliable data..


    Wilmer achieved one of the highest athletic achievem

    2. Flores was never a SS level athlete. Cabrera and Reyes aren’t anymore. And just because Walker never was, it doesn’t mean he’s automatically a worse option.

    3. Here’s the problem with your DRS sample size rebuttal – we have a large sample size proving none of Cabrera, Flores, or Reyes are good defenders. It’s been nearly a decade since any of them has posted a positive DRS at any position. So far, you’ve presented nothing showing why anyone of those players would suddenly post a positive DRS at second in the upcoming season.

    1. OldBackstop says:

      The above post should end three paragraphs from the bottom at “Wilmer.” Wish we could edit and bold/italicize, etc….

    2. metsdaddy says:

      None of these second baseman have been good defenders in a decade. As such, there’s zero reason to believe their poor second base stats are outliers. In fact, they’re right on par with their career numbers.

      Walker, on the other hand, has typically been a good defender.

      Go with the guy who has actually put up positive fielding numbers over the past decade.

      1. OldBackstop says:

        So, if we put Lucas Duda and his great defensive first base stats in centerfield, and he guns two guys out at third, then we cut Lagares, because Duda was so good at first and in this sample he is just great.

        You are making the opposite statistical error in assuming that someone average or slightly below average will not have upside when they move down the spectrum. They do.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          That’s not remotely close to the argument I’m making. In fact, it’s closer to your argument.

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