NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The New York Mets quickly bounced back from losing out on their first choice for a new second baseman, acquiring Neil Walker from the Pittsburgh Pirates for left-hander Jonathon Niese.
The teams made the swap of established big leaguers Wednesday at the winter meetings.
The Mets had made it known that they were targeting Ben Zobrist as their No. 1 goal this offseason. But on Tuesday, the All-Star free agent chose the Chicago Cubs and former manager Joe Maddon.
The 30-year-old Walker fills the hole created when playoff slugger Daniel Murphy became a free agent after New York lost the World Series.
Walker can become a free agent after this season. A Silver Slugger winner in 2014, Walker batted .269 with 16 homers and 71 RBIs last season for the Pirates, his hometown team.
Niese, 29, became expendable with the development of young Mets aces Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz.
Niese was 9-10 with a 4.13 ERA last season. He was a steady presence in the Mets' rotation through the lean years, but was moved to the bullpen for their run through the postseason.
He is 61-61 in eight seasons with a 3.91 ERA, and has made at least 30 starts three times without ever reaching 200 innings.
Niese is owed $9 million next season in the final year of a five-year, $25.27 million contract. The Pirates will have $10 million options - or $500,000 buyouts - for 2017 and `18.
With Murphy expected to get a hefty contract, the Mets were left with few options within the organization at second base. They have 21-year-old Dilson Herrera, who started 27 times at the spot last season and hit .211. The Mets got Herrera from the Pirates in August 2013 in a trade that sent Marlon Byrd and John Buck to Pittsburgh.