The Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Mets have made a one-for-one swap sending Neil Walker to the Mets and Jon Niese to the Pirates, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
Walker is Plan B for the Mets, who lost the bidding war for Ben Zobrist on Tuesday. Zobrist signed with the Chicago Cubs on a four-year, $56 million deal. Walker will take over for the Mets at second base after losing Daniel Murphy to free agency.
New York will feature Walker at second base and Wilmer Flores at shortstop in 2016. The team has 21-year-old Dilson Herrera in the minor leagues to appear at any time if help is needed. Herrera hit .311 with three home runs and six RBI over 31 games at the major league level in 2015.
The 30-year-old was the 11th pick in the 2004 MLB Draft by the Pirates and has been with the team for his seven-year career. The newest member of the Mets hit .272 over his career with 833 hits and 418 RBI. Last season, Walker delivered 16 homers and 71 RBI across 151 games.
The addition of Walker gives the Mets options, while the Pirates have bolstered their rotation with Niese. The left-handed pitcher would have been knocked out of the rotation in New York once Zack Wheeler returned from Tommy John surgery, so the Mets were out of options. Niese will join Gerrit Cole, Francisco Liriano, Charlie Morton and Jeff Locke in the rotation for Pittsburgh. It is unknown where exactly the 29-year-old will slot in, but it should be as the fourth or fifth starter.
Last season, Niese pitched in 29 starts and logged a 4.13 ERA. He has won 61 games for the Mets since 2008, which means that Niese has been very healthy. The seventh round pick in the 2005 MLB Draft has tossed 1,068.1 innings over his eight-year career.
The Los Angeles Angels, Washingotn Nationals and Baltimore Orioles had mild-to-serious intrest in Walker, but in the end it was the Mets coming away with the switch-hitter.