Mike Puma of the New York Post reports that Mets’ officials have expressed interest in signing free agent second baseman Neil Walker. While the rumor has yet to be confirmed, Walker could be a relatively affordable choice for the club, who cut him loose in a trade to the Brewers in August and are reportedly seeking infield depth again this offseason.
Walker, 32, amassed 2.1 fWAR with the clubs in 2017, slashing .265/.362/.439 with 14 home runs in 448 PA. His production rate took a sharp nosedive from the career-best numbers he put up in 2016, but part of his regression can be traced back to a left hamstring strain, which landed him on the disabled list for over six weeks in June.
The Mets have cast a wide net in their search for second base depth this offseason, with reports linking them to Ian Kinsler, Dee Gordon and others. Walker’s familiarity with the team works in his favor, but as Puma points out, communication broke down between the two sides during extension talks last February and may cast a pall over future contract talks this winter.
Mets left-hander Jason Vargas has a non-displaced fracture of the hamate bone in his right hand, the team announced Sunday. Vargas sustained the injury after taking a comebacker off of his hand on Friday and is expected to consult with a hand specialist later today as the team settles on a course of action. Comments from GM Sandy Alderson indicate that surgery is a possibility, though the left-hander may also pitch through it for the time being.
Vargas, 35, signed a two-year, $16 million pact with the team last month. He completed a four-year run with the Royals in 2017, earning his first career All-Star nomination with an 18-11 record in 32 starts and producing a 4.16 ERA, 2.9 BB/9 and 6.7 SO/9 over 179 2/3 innings. Prior to the incident, the southpaw was expected to help fill out the back end of the Mets’ Opening Day rotation.
Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News estimates that Vargas will likely miss the start of the season as he faces a two- to six-week recovery period. It’s a disappointing turn of events for a pitching staff that has been absolutely ravaged by injuries over the last couple of years.