Thursday, December 10, 2015

Busy Mets Acquire Neil Walker, Closing in on Asdrubal Cabrera

24 hours after losing out on Ben Zobrist to the Chicago Cubs, the Mets were quick to act on Wednesday with a pair of moves they hope will upgrade the infield. 

First New York sent longtime starting pitcher Jonathan Niese to Pittsburgh in exchange for Neil Walker. The deal is essentially an expiring contract for an expiring contract. Niese was due to make $9 million this season alone, and was due to make $10 million in 2017 and $11 million in 2018, both years were team options. The Mets decided that it was better to shed the contract for Walker, who is arbitration eligible and due roughly more than $8 million this upcoming season. 

As far as the player is concerned, the Mets replace Daniel Murphy with this move. While Murphy was a beloved homegrown Met, his asking price was too high for the Mets, and New York wanted to go a less expensive route. In Walker, the Mets essentially are getting the same player, albeit Walker is two years older. 

Walker has put up some pretty solid numbers during his seven year stint with the Pirates. He hit .272 as a hitter with 93 homer runs and 418 RBI. He's a switch hitter with pop, belting as many as 23 home runs in a season, which he did back in 2014. On average, Walker hits about 13-14 home runs a year, which is what Murphy was doing, strictly as a left-handed hitter. 

Defensively, Walker is a better defensive second baseman than Murphy was. Walker has a .989 fielding percentage compared to Murph's .974 fielding percentage. So from the standpoint of finding a solid second baseman the Mets succeed here. 

If all goes well, Walker could fit in nicely into the Mets lineup in 2016, depending on how the front office fills out the lineup, especially in the power department. 

That now brings us to the next move the Mets made later that night in signing short stop Asdrubal Cabrera. According to many sources via Twitter, the Mets signed Cabrera to a two-year deal worth $18.5 million, with $8.25 million reportedly coming in year one. That is a lot of money for a 30-year old shortstop who is a .267 hitter with one big season to show for it. Granted it is only a two year commitment, but you have to wonder for a contract in the neighborhood of $8-$9 million per season, they could have done that with Murphy on a long term deal. 

Cabrera has spent most of his career with the Cleveland Indians, where he had his best Major League season in 2011, when he belted 25 home runs and drove in 92. He has not come close to those number since. Defensively he's an above average fielder at short stop. For the price tag and age the Mets were better off having Wilmur Flores as their starting short stop for 2016 and signing Kelly Johnson to a one or two year incentive laden deal to ride the bench. 

Flores showed flashes of brilliance last year. With Cabrera in town, he almost certainly will start over Flores on a daily basis. 

Obviously the Mets are not done making moves. They could go out and look to add an outfielder like Denard Span who would give them some lineup depth and a dependable veteran glove in center field. Or they could wait and see what the market dictates for Yoneis Cespedes if they decide to get involved in his negotiations. 

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