Tim Reilly: Teams are still easing their way into offseason discussions, but with Thanksgiving behind us, things are sure to ramp up soon.. We know the Mets have a hole at second base, and there's no shortage of opinions of how the Mets should go about filling it. Neil Walker has become a popular name floated around. Is he the answer or should the Mets be looking elsewhere?
Brian Erni: They could do a lot worse than Walker. He's serviceable defensively, and he's shown a willingness to play other defensive positions, which the front office puts a big premium on. Offensively, he's still a solid player, and I know the Mets like his clubhouse leadership. Of course, they could do better. That's really the crux of the issue.
Tim Reilly: I'm not a Walker hater. I thought he proved to be a valued asset in his first tenure with the Mets…when he was on the field. But Walker’s back issues scare me.
The team already has seen firsthand what back problems can do (David Wright). It feels like we've seen this story before. Walker has missed extended action each of the last two seasons. Should the Mets really be considering another player with a nagging back injury as a top target? Or do you envision Walker as a backup plan if other options don't go their way?
Brian Erni: The injuries are certainly a drawback on Walker, and it’s why I wouldn’t mind them moving in another direction. Walker is really the lone free agent available, and that's why he's attractive: The Mets know what they're getting and they only have to surrender money. But whether I think they get involved on some of the second basemen available, most of whom would have to be had on the trade market, depends on the cost.
We know they’ve had preliminary conversations with the Tigers about Ian Kinsler. Jason Kipnis is another player who will likely be moved, I think he’s an options, too. Dee Gordon is available, but the cost in prospects may be too high.
Tim Reilly: Gordon is appealing in more ways than one. He checks off a lot of boxes that the Mets need. But simply put, the Mets just don't have the depth they once had to go out and acquire pieces with ease. He would likely cost an arm, and last season proved how quickly things can turn array without formidable pitching on this season.
As far as a trade in concerned, I'd look to Kinsler. He's got one year left on his deal, and the Tigers are ready to breakdown their team and rebuild. He should come at a much, much cheaper price. And if the Mets were to go the free agent route, why not look at Brandon Phillips? He's sure to take a short-term deal and he's continued to put together quality season, even in the latter stages of his career.
Brian Erni: I know you like Phillips, but I don’t think he’s as good as you think he’s been. His defense has been slipping the last two seasons, he doesn’t walk (something the Mets covet in their hitters), and his offensive seasons have been pretty pedestrian of late. The range certainly isn't what it once was. Offensively, I think he's not much better than the current in-house options. If I'm going to invest a portion of the budget the Mets say they have available on a second baseman, it has be a significant offensive upgrade over a guy like Wilmer Flores. And I don't think Phillips is.
Kinsler is a far more interesting case. This is a guy who was a consistent 5-to-6 WAR player up until last season. He's entering his age 36 season, so I get that the drop off could be a sign of things to come, but on – what equates to – a one year, $11 million commitment? If you can get him for a reasonable return, I think you have to do it.
Tim Reilly: In a perfect world, the Mets acquire Gordon at a reasonable price. But we both know he will cost a pretty penny, and at the moment, I'm not so sure Sandy is willing to part with too many Major League-ready pieces. If the Mets turn to free agency, I think Neil Walker is their man. I like him, I really do. I just won't be thrilled about having to worry about another player potentially hitting the DL with each swing they take. In the event of a trade, I think Sandy goes bargain shopping for Kinsler. That's where I believe the Mets will ultimately turn to. It buys us a year until Daniel Murphy hits the market once again. Just saying...
What's your prediction?
Brian Erni: While I'm very intrigued by Kinsler, I think this has Jason Kipnis written all over it.
Three things should quell Kipnis’ market a bit: The Indians proved last year they can survive without him, so much so that he was playing centerfield upon his return (that spot won’t be available this year with Bradley Zimmer returning from injury). He's due roughly $30 million guaranteed (which includes a buy out of a team option in 2020), and his on and off injury problems last season.
If the Mets can grab Kipnis at a reasonable price, I'm in. He's five years younger than Kinsler, has had seasons just as productive, and with team control through his age 33 season, he can be a long-term solution at a reasonable price. Plus, with his familiarity to Mickey Callaway, he can act as a bridge between the new manager and the clubhouse.
Tim Reilly: I'm surprised Kipnis isn't a name we have heard more of this offseason. It almost makes too much sense given his connection to Callaway. Given that he had a down year, and missed time due to injury, the Mets would certainly be buying low. I'm curious what his price tag would be, but I'm certainly down with Kipnis in orange-and-blue next season.
Brian Erni: There are a few ways the Mets can go here, and I think it’ll hinge of what else they do, both in the bullpen and at third base. But there are ways for the Mets to get better without giving up too much. Hopefully, they land one of these pieces.
Let me be clear: If you have Twitter and don't retweet #CalliesMetsProm, you suck.
For baseball fans, the gap from November to the end of February can feel like an eternity. But this past Saturday, the Queens Baseball Convention (QBC) at Katch in Astoria took the edge off for Mets die-hards.