Neil Walker forgoes free agency, accepts Mets' qualifying offer

Sporting News
The New York Mets' slugging but oft-injured second baseman is one of two players to accept their $17.2 million qualifying offer this year.
The New York Mets' slugging but oft-injured second baseman is one of two players to accept their $17.2 million qualifying offer this year.

Neil Walker won't roll the dice on the open market.

Instead of entering free agency, the New York Mets second baseman opted Monday to accept a sure-thing $17.2 million qualifying offer from the team, as first reported by the New York Post. He joined Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Jeremy Hellickson as the only players of the 10 eligible to take their deal ahead of the 5 p.m. ET deadline. 

Walker, who will be 31 next season, rode a hot start in 2016 to a career-revitalizing .282/.347/.476 slash line, 23 home runs and 55 RBIs.

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Back surgery cost him the final month of the season, but Walker still set a career-high 3.8 WAR in 113 games, hit .330 against left-handed pitching and was one of the best fielding second baseman in MLB (.986 fielding percentage). It will amount to a $6.65 million salary increase for the 2017 season.

After a MLB record 20 players were extended qualifying offers last offseason, this year's group was cut in half.

Eight declined offers from their teams, including Walker's Mets teammate Yoenis Cespedes, as expected. The Mets have said they're intent on re-signing the outfielder, but Cespedes will fetch well more than $17.2 million as he tours free agency for a second straight offseason.

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