PHILADELPHIA — As Mets infielder Neil Walker took batting practice at Citizens Bank Park on Saturday, word spread that a trade would soon send him to the Milwaukee Brewers, who are in the thick of the National League wild-card race.
Walker was scratched from the starting lineup just before the first pitch of the game, a 3-1 Mets loss to the Philadelphia Phillies, and left the visitors’ clubhouse with his belongings in the sixth inning. Walker declined to comment as he departed with one of the team’s public relations officials by his side.
The deal was not officially announced until after the game: Walker to the Brewers for a player to be named later. The Mets will also pay an undisclosed portion of Walker’s remaining salary, which was about $4.7 million.
In the midst of a disappointing season, the Mets are already looking toward 2018. Over the past two and a half weeks, the Mets have traded four players who are scheduled to be free agents at the end of the season. By trading reliever Addison Reed, outfielder Jay Bruce, first baseman Lucas Duda and now Walker, the Mets have received four bullpen prospects and financial relief — and cleared up playing time for their younger players.
The Mets, seeking a replacement for Daniel Murphy before the 2016 season, acquired Walker in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He hit .282 with 23 home runs last year despite missing the final month of the season because of back surgery.