Second baseman Neil Walker will return to Citi Field to continue his stint with the New York Mets after accepting the team's $17.2 million qualifying offer, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported Monday.
ESPN.com's Adam Rubin relayed Sherman's report, noting Walker's injury history may have prevented him from landing a multiyear contract.
Walker confirmed the news on Twitter:
With free agency looming, the Pittsburgh Pirates—with whom he spent the first seven years of his MLB career—dealt Walker to a Mets team that lost 2015 postseason hero Daniel Murphy, who signed with the Washington Nationals prior to the 2016 campaign.
In New York, the 31-year-old put up one of the best seasons of his career, batting .282 with 23 home runs, which tied a career high and ranked third among National League second basemen.
Nine of those home runs came in April as he quickly endeared himself to Mets fans:
A switch-hitter who provided extra pop in a lineup that needed to add protection for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, Walker helped the Mets set a franchise record with 218 home runs in 2016.
On top of that, he shored up the middle of the infield next to shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, who also signed with the Mets prior to the 2016 season.
However, Walker's stellar season was cut short by a back injury that required surgery in September.
The Mets will hope that Walker comes back healthy in 2017, as they might need all of the help they can get in the power department, considering Cespedes is a free agent.
Walker's return ensures the Mets will have one of the best middle infields in the majors as they attempt to contend for their third straight postseason appearance in 2017.
Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.