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Mets comfortable with Neil Walker's progress, make qualifying offer

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Hours after formally making a qualifying offer to second baseman Neil Walker, general manager Sandy Alderson expressed confidence in the free agent's health on Monday.

Walker underwent season-ending surgery on Sept. 8 to repair a herniated disk in his lower back.

Walker has until next Monday to accept or decline a one-year, $17.2 million offer from the Mets. Declining does not preclude him from subsequently re-signing with the club on other terms.

“I think there was some deliberation with regard to a qualifying offer for Neil,” Alderson said at the GM meetings on Monday. “In the end, we decided that we very definitely wanted to make the offer. We’d love to have him back, and felt it was the appropriate thing to do. And we understand there’s a possibility he may accept it. We’re not unaware of that possibility.”

Like with Yoenis Cespedes, who also received a qualifying offer, the Mets will recoup a draft pick if Walker signs elsewhere.

Walker's decision is complicated by his coming off back surgery. But if his representatives are confident he can land a deal somewhere between the contracts that have gone to Daniel Murphy (three years, $37.5 million) and Ben Zobrist (four years, $56 million), then it makes sense to decline the qualifying offer and pursue a longer-term deal.

Alderson said he is amenable with Walker returning to the Mets on either a one-year or multiyear contract.

“Both of those possibilities are of interest to us, so we made the offer,” Alderson said.

Alderson said the Mets had not engaged in contract talks with Walker’s representatives either during the regular season or in the month since the Mets’ wild-card elimination.

Team officials suggest that if Walker departed, the Mets likely would handle second base internally and allot their dollars elsewhere. The Mets also have Jose Reyes, T.J. Rivera, Wilmer Flores, Matt Reynolds and Gavin Cecchini.

Walker hit .282 with 23 homers and 55 RBIs in 412 at-bats in his first and possibly only season with the Mets.

As about his confidence in the well-being of Walker’s back after the microdiscectomy procedure, Alderson said: “The more time that passes, the more comfortable one can become -- or uncomfortable, I guess, if things go the other direction. But certainly with the passage of time you have a little more information in terms of post-surgery issues. So at this point, I think, we felt comfortable assessing the risk that exists.”