PHILADELPHIA — Neil Walker is the latest of the Mets veterans to be sent packing to save salary and make room for the players of the future. The Mets traded the second baseman to the Brewers after the team’s 3-1 loss to the Phillies Saturday night. The two teams were finalizing a deal throughout the day.
Walker will be sent to the Brewers with cash towards his salary for a player to be named later.
Walker was summoned to the manager’s office after taking batting practice on the field. He met with Sandy Alderson for about five minutes and said his goodbyes in the clubhouse.
But there was a hold up as the final details in Milwaukee were being worked out.
Neil Walker upset by rumors his health killed Yankees deal
Walker waited in the Mets clubhouse until the fifth inning. As he left the clubhouse told reporters he could not comment because there was no official deal. Then he climbed onto a golf cart and was driven out of Citizens Bank Park.
Walker is the second veteran the Mets have deal this week, following Jay Bruce, who was sent to the Indians on Wednesday. He is the fourth veteran the Mets have traded in the last two weeks after they sent first baseman Lucas Duda to Tampa and closer Addison Reed to the Red Sox.
That is about a combined $ 14 million in salary that has been dumped in the last two weeks.
Despite what Sandy Alderson said publicly on Thursday, the Mets are committedly on a path that is cutting salary and clearing roster spots. Alderson was adamant on Thursday as he defended his deal with the Indians for Bruce that his motivating factor was not saving money, but clearing the way for young kids to play with an eye toward 2018.
But the bottom line is that the organization is selling off a disappointing 2017 team.
The Mets went into Saturday night’s game against the Phillies having won three straight, but still just nine games below .500. They were 16 games behind the Nationals in the division and 11 out of a wild card spot.
So, there is really no reason for Alderson to keep assets he can sell off at this point.
And Walker was a strange signing for the Mets from the start.
A good trade before the 2016 season, the Mets acquired Walker in a straight-up trade that sent lefty Jon Niese to the Pirates. The 31-year-old second baseman had to end his season early to have surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back, however. A free agent at the end of the year, the Mets offered him the $ 17.1 million qualifying offer. It was a perfect deal for Walker, giving him a chance to prove he was healthy before hitting the free agent’s market.
It was a huge salary, however, for a second baseman coming off back surgery. It was also a hold up on attempts to deal Walker over the last few weeks, even more so than the reported concerns over his medicals.
A Brewers source confirmed that the teams had talked about Walker a few times over the last week. He said, however, that the remaining salary, around $ 5 million, was a sticking point for Milwaukee.
“It’s going to take a good prospect or the Mets covering the rest of his salary,” the source said, indicating that the Brewers would want Walker packaged with a prospect to take on that $ 5 million salary.
The Brewers also had some concerns about Walkers’ health with the back issue and especially after he missed 36 games this season after partially tearing his left hamstring in June. Walker just returned from the disabled list July 28 and was still doing some rehab work this week, but seemed to be turning a corner. In his last two games, Walker has gone 6-for-9 with a home run and two RBI.
The Brewers concerns, however, came nowhere close to those reportedly of the Yankees.
A Mets source claimed Friday that the Yankees had all but finalized a deal for Walker on July 31, but they pulled out of it. Reports said the Yankees blamed Walker’s medical records, but a Mets source said Friday that they believe the Yankees walked away because they had completed a deal for Sonny Grey.
Walker was very upset to be caught up in the petty bitter rivalry between the Yankees and Mets.
“I am confused as to why I am sitting here having to answer questions about my health, for something that didn’t happen,” Walker said. “I was healthy then, I am healthy now. My back is fine and at that point I was still doing rehab work for my hamstring, but I am healthy.”
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