PHILADELPHIA -- As his teammates played out their 3-1 loss to the Phillies on Saturday, second baseman Neil Walker changed out of his Mets uniform for the final time, throwing on a pair of jeans, a black polo shirt and tennis shoes. He exited the Mets' clubhouse in the sixth
PHILADELPHIA -- As his teammates played out their 3-1 loss to the Phillies on Saturday, second baseman Neil Walker changed out of his Mets uniform for the final time, throwing on a pair of jeans, a black polo shirt and tennis shoes. He exited the Mets' clubhouse in the sixth inning, climbed into the passenger seat of a green utility vehicle and motored down a Citizens Bank Ballpark corridor, bound for the exit.
About three hours later, the Mets officially announced that they had traded Walker and cash to the Brewers for a player to be named. Walker became the Mets' latest pending free agent to head to a contender, joining Lucas Duda (Rays), Addison Reed (Red Sox) and Jay Bruce (Indians). Two others, Curtis Granderson and Asdrubal Cabrera, could still be on the move.
"Honestly, I try to be as dispassionate about it as possible," Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said. "That's the way I've approached it, and I think that's the way the players involved have approached it. It is a business. They understand that. I understand that. And when things don't go the way they were expected to go, then you have to shift and do the best you can to change direction."
In Walker, the Brewers receive a switch-hitter with NL Central roots. Slashing .264/.339/.442 with 10 home runs for the Mets, Walker figures to boost a club that ranks 25th in the Majors with a .672 OPS at second base.
In exchange, the Mets gain additional roster flexibility, salary relief -- they will pay only a portion of the $4.7 million that Walker is still owed -- and, eventually, a player who might help them.
Thus ended a two-week-long saga for Walker, who was nearly unavailable for the Brewers. Multiple sources confirmed that the Mets had a deal in place to send Walker across town to the Bronx at the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, but the Yankees backed out of the trade at the last second, citing medical reasons. Walker missed six weeks earlier this season due to a hamstring injury, and underwent back surgery last summer. But he has been healthy since his return, rapping out six hits in the Mets' first two games this week in Philadelphia.
Two days after that, rumors surfaced publicly for the first time, and news of Walker's trade broke as he was taking batting practice at Citizens Bank Park.
"I'm excited to be back in a playoff race," Walker said late Saturday night, riding in a car service back to New York to collect his belongings. "It's a place I'm very familiar with, the NL Central and Milwaukee. [I want] to get there, meet the team and, hopefully, help them as much as I can. I've always felt pretty good there."
From a wider scope, Walker's trade became part of an organizational strategy to shed expiring contracts, infuse the farm system with talent, save some money and open playing time for recent callups Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith, among others.
At second base, the Mets have no such blue-chip prospect ready to debut. Instead, they will use a combination of Wilmer Flores, Jose Reyes, Matt Reynolds, Gavin Cecchini and -- if his right elbow is healthy enough -- T.J. Rivera at the position down the stretch, seeking to evaluate all those players for potential 2018 roles.
"It's important for us to create playing time," Alderson said. "We're seeing that at first base. We're seeing that at shortstop. We're going to see that in the outfield, to some extent. We'll have, I think, a simpler sort of rotation in the infield. We talked about seeing what some of our players can do for 2018, and I think that this series of transactions opens up the opportunity for us to observe some new players."
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook.