By Joseph Rini
Among the Mets unloaded during this August’s fire sale was veteran second baseman Neil Walker, who was dealt to the Milwaukee Brewers for the still unnamed player to be named later and yes, who’ll probably be another hard throwing minor league relief pitcher because it takes a lot of pitchers to get through nine innings nowadays.
Walker played well for the Mets, the only blemish being the time he missed due to injuries in 2016 and 2017.
Unfortunately for Walker, he was traded for Daniel Murphy, who never took off the Superman cape he donned during the 2015 postseason for the Mets and has since tormented his old team and really annoyed every other team since joining the division rival Washington Nationals.
But wait, Walker wasn’t traded for Murphy. He was traded for Jon Niese and Niese’s ERA for the Pirates was a two-run homer away from being above 5.00 before the Bucs sent him back to the Mets in August 2016. However, the reunion was brief and the lefthander soon thereafter ended the season on the DL. He hasn’t pitched in the majors since then.
So acquiring Walker for Niese was a great trade for the Mets. When healthy, Walker met the expectations on the back of his baseball card but sadly for the Amazins, Murphy seems to have exchanged the back of his baseball card for Wade Boggs’ baseball card since leaving the team from Flushing.
Dilson Herrera was thought to be the Mets second baseman for the next decade in December 2015 but he was traded to the Reds for Jay Bruce less than a year later. Herrera hasn’t been able to crack the Reds roster and his 2017 ended on the operating table as he had surgery to remove bone spurs in his right shoulder in July.
Yet, if Neil Walker going into his free agent walk year was only going to be a one-year placeholder for Herrera, why let Murphy go in the first place if you could’ve signed him for three years like the Nats? Even if he wasn’t going to continue to be the 2015 postseason Daniel Murphy, the 2008-2015 regular season Murphy was a solid .280 – .300 hitter (albeit with a some defensive lapses and head scratching baserunning on occasion). Even if Herrera was ready to man second base in 2017, Murphy was a good insurance policy for David Wright at third base but evidently, the Mets didn’t want to pay the premiums on that policy.
When the Mets “traded” Murphy for Walker in December 2015, I’d say the consensus was Walker had been a better overall player over the course of their careers. It’s not Walker’s fault that Murphy has defied the odds and re-made himself after the age of 30. It happens sometimes. Look at Justin Turner. Oh wait, the Mets let him go, too.