The New York Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates completed a one-for-one trade today, sending second baseman Neil Walker to New York and sending starting pitcher Jon Niese to Pittsburgh.
Given the recent and extensive track record that the Pirates have at re-establishing fringe pitchers, it feels almost like a safe prediction that Niese will have a career year in 2016. Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage has helped revitalize the careers of Edinson Volquez, Francisco Liriano, A.J. Burnett, and J.A. Happ, among other success projects. Niese was drafted by the Mets in 2005 and was a regular in New York’s rotation since 2010. Niese was used in a bullpen role this past postseason, allowing a 5.06 ERA in 5.1 innings over six appearances.
Walker was drafted by the Pirates in the first round way back in 2004, and has been the team’s primary second baseman since 2010. This trade confirms that the Mets were willing to part with incumbent second baseman and current free agent Daniel Murphy, despite Murphy’s surprising postseason heroics.
Niese is scheduled to earn $9 million in 2016, with club options for $10 million and $11 million in the two seasons to follow. Walker is entering his third and final season in arbitration, and will be a free agent next winter.