By Jason Shetler
The Pirates have traded Neil Walker to the New York Mets in exchange for Jon Niese. Joel Sherman of the New York Post was first to report the deal while the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Bill Brink mentioned that Niese was a possibility in the trade.
Walker was the Pirates first round selection in the 2004 MLB Draft as a catcher. The Pittsburgh native had moved to third base by the time he reached AAA Indianapolis. With the Pirates drafting Pedro Alvarez in 2008, Walker started playing more second base. After a September call up to Pittsburgh in 2009, Walker became the Pirates everyday second baseman following the struggles of Aki Iwamura in 2010. His best season came in 2014 when he posted an .809 OPS with a 126 OPS+. He also hit 23 home runs that year, the most ever in a season by a Pirates second baseman. Walker’s offensive numbers in 2015 weren’t as good, posting a .756 OPS along with an OPS+ of 107. During his seven seasons with the Pirates, Walker hit .272 with a .769 OPS in 836 games.
Niese was taken in the seventh round of the 2005 MLB Draft by the Mets. The 29-year-old left-hander made his big league debut for the Mets as a September call up in 2008. Niese put up okay numbers in 2015 with a 4.13 ERA and a WAR of 0.9 in 176.2 innings. He did however post a 55% groundball rate, which was a career best for him. Niese altogether pitched eight seasons with the Mets, as he posted an ERA of 3.91. His Fielding Independent Pitching was better at 3.84.