The New York Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates completed a Major Leaguer for Major Leaguer trade this afternoon, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
The Mets acquired second baseman Neil Walker from the Pirates in exchange for left-handed starting pitcher Jon Niese.
Walker had reportedly been on the trade block for quite some time now, considering he is expected to make $10.7 million in his final year of arbitration according to MLBTradeRumors.com. While productive, Walker just was not good enough to take up that big of a chunk in Pittsburgh's payroll.
Instead, he heads to the Mets, who will almost surely be losing their 2015 second baseman to free agency this offseason. They then turned their attention to Ben Zobrist, but after he signed with the Cubs yesterday, it was obvious they needed a different solution.
The switch-hitting Walker is expected to slide right in at second base in New York's lineup.
Last season, the 30-year-old Walker hit .269/.328/.427 with 16 home runs and 71 RBIs in 603 plate appearances. According to FanGraphs, he was worth a total of 2.4 Wins Above Replacement.
The Pirates' rotation needed an upgrade this offseason, with many speculating they could be in the Doug Fister market. Cheap starting pitching is what Pittsburgh loves and being able to fix these pitchers' mechanics and make them better has attributed to a lot of their success in recent years (i.e. Edinson Volquez, A.J. Burnett, J.A. Happ).
Niese is not exactly inexpensive nor is do his mechanics need work. He was just an expendable piece that the Mets had due to the fact that they have a surplus of starting pitching.
Niese will make $9 million in 2016, so this trade not only attacks a need for Pittsburgh, but could end up saving them money as well.
In 2015, the 29-year-old Niese went 9-10 with a 4.13 ERA (4.41 FIP; 4.11 xFIP) in 33 appearances (29 starts). He pitched 176 2/3 innings, striking out 113 and walking 55. He was worth 0.9 fWAR in 2015.
Over his career, Niese has been a fairly effective pitcher, working to a 3.91 ERA and a 3.84 FIP (3.74 xFIP) in parts of eight seasons. From 2012 to 2015, he was worth 5.4 fWAR.