The Mets’ lineup took a considerable hit Wednesday, when manager Terry Collins announced Neil Walker will opt for surgery, bringing a close to his 2016 season. The switch-hitting second baseman was initially scratched from the lineup on Aug. 16 due to “back stiffness.” More recently, however, Walker had been diagnosed with a herniated disc. Between his back injury and spending time on paternity leave, Walker has played in just four of the Mets’ last 15 games.
Walker’s development comes after optimistic remarks from GM Sandy Alderson, who labeled the diagnosis “overblown,” while reiterating “he can play.” However, an ominous report from the Daily News indicated the Mets were concerned the injury could affect Walker for the rest of his career.
Acquired from Pittsburgh in a trade for Jon Niese over the offseason, Walker has had a banner 2016 campaign with the Mets; tying a previous career-high with 23 home runs while producing a stellar .282/.347/.476 line. A free-agent-to-be, Walker had been discussed as a contract extension candidate to remain in New York. The impending disabled list stint will be his first with the Mets, and fourth of his major league career.
Despite shipping Dilson Herrera to the Reds at the trade deadline, the Mets have a handful of in-house options to supplant Walker at second base. Wilmer Flores and Asdrubal Cabrera have major league experience at second base, as does Kelly Johnson. With rosters expanding on Sept. 1, the Mets could opt to promote Gavin Cecchini, who has produced a .330/.391/.454 line this season in Triple-A Las Vegas. What’s more, utilitymen Ty Kelly and T.J. Rivera will likely be in the mix for at-bats in September.