Neil Walker has accepted the Mets’ qualifying offer for 2017. With that, the second baseman will return to Queens on a one-year, $17.2 million contract, and the Mets have an everyday second baseman in place heading into next season.
If not for back surgery that ended his season early, Walker probably wouldn’t have even considered accepting the qualifying offer. He had an excellent season for the Mets in 2016, as he hit .282/.347/.476 with 23 home runs in 458 plate appearances, and he played solid defense to go along with the production at the plate. Heading into his age-31 season, he presumably would have entered the free agent market with a strong enough case that he could turn down a qualifying offer.
While the Mets have several other players on the roster next year who are capable of playing second base, Walker is a much better Plan A than any of the alternatives. The Mets are built to contend now, and they’re a better team with Walker as the first option at second base than they are without him.