Neil Walker revealed to reporters this week that he has been having discussions with the Mets about the possibility of an extension. Walker, who accepted the Mets’ $17 million qualifying offer this offseason, would be a free agent following the end of the 2017 season.
This isn’t the first time Walker has been connected to extension talks with the Mets. There were rumors last summer of the two sides trying to negotiate a contract extension, but couldn’t reach an agreement. Additionally, according to Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News, a source close to Walker said the Mets and Walker came very close on multiple occasions of reaching a multi-year deal. The same report says Walker and his representatives were asking for a deal in the range of $40 million.
Walker told reporters that he wants to stay with the Mets beyond the 2017 season. “For me, looking at this, this is where I want to be, looking down the road, looking at what’s here and the potential of what the next two, three, four years look like, this is an exciting place to be as a big league ballplayer. Nothing has come to fruition just yet, but it doesn’t mean something won’t happen,” he said.
Walker was acquired by the Mets shortly after the end of the 2015 season in a trade with the Pirates. Last season, Walker hit .282, with a .347 on-base percentage and .476 slugging percentage. He tied a career-high with 23 home runs. Walker displayed major improvements batting right-handed in 2016. After hitting just .237 without a homer in 2015 batting right-handed, Walker hit .330 with 8 homers from the right side in 2016. One speculation for such immense improvement in such a short period of time could be the fact that he got rid of his toe-tap when batting right-handed.
As productive as Walker was for the Mets last season, his season was cut short when he was forced to undergo back surgery to remove a herniated disk. It would be wise for the Mets to wait and see how healthy and effective Walker is for the Mets before resuming talks about an extension with him. If he can be as productive in 2017 as he was in 2016, the Mets may have a long-term solution for second base.