An interesting trade with NL Central and NL Wild Card race implications is going down:
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 9, 2015
That swap had been rumored for a little while, and it makes sense for both sides. The Mets need a second baseman after missing out on Ben Zobrist, and Walker has just one year left before free agency. He’ll make about $10 million. It’s a nice short-term fit for the Mets.
Niese also has one year left on his deal, at $9 million, plus team options at $10 million and $10.5 million the next two years ($500K buyout each year). The Pirates have seen J.A. Happ and A.J. Burnett depart to the Blue Jays and retirement, respectively, so they need to add multiple arms this offseason. Given their peculiarly strong ability to reclaim pitchers, Niese looks like a good bet to return to the guy he was before 2015 – a pretty good 4, and maybe slightly above average starter overall.
At second base, the Pirates could slide Jung-Ho Kang over, or perhaps Josh Harrison becomes a regular there. Of particular note, though, is that the Pirates will have filled a spot in their rotation without adding any salary. With things tight, they needed that space to play with, and could possibly now be more aggressive in the second tier pitching market.
In sum, it’s a smaller move, but it’s one that really works for both teams. So I don’t like it.