PORT ST. LUCIE — Neil Walker would like to believe accepting the Mets’ qualifying offer in November was just a first small step in securing his future with the organization.

The veteran second baseman, who underwent surgery last September for a herniated disk in his back, indicated there are ongoing talks with the Mets about a potential multi-year contract. According to an industry source, the two sides discussed a three-year deal for about $40 million in the offseason.

“We’ve had some discussions and nothing has come to fruition,” Walker said Wednesday at Tradition Field. “But for me, looking at this, there is no place else I would want to be, and looking down the road at what is here and what the next [few] years look like, this is an exciting place to be as a big league ballplayer. I feel confident in my health, and they do, too.”

Walker, 31, brought surprising power to the lineup last season, when he posted a .282/.347/.476 slash line with 23 homers and 55 RBIs in 113 games. But Walker dealt with back pain throughout the season, culminating with the September surgery. Confident in Walker’s recovery, the Mets extended him a qualifying offer worth $17.2 million for 2017, which he accepted rather than test an uncertain free-agent market.

“More than anything, when we started to look around and see what other potential landing spots there could be in the course of an offseason, I came to realize it wasn’t going to be with a better team than New York,” Walker said. “And this was my first choice going into the offseason, so it has worked out the way that I wanted it to, but as a player and a guy who has gone through the arbitration process four times, when you get to that point, you want that opportunity to explore free agency if you can. But the way it turned out, it made more sense to accept the qualifying offer and come back here for at least one more year.”

Walker indicated his back is pain-free for the first time since 2011, when he was playing for the Pirates. He will be ready for anything in spring training, including the possibility of playing third base and first base, if needed.

“The way he played last year was brilliant, especially under the conditions he had to deal with,” manager Terry Collins said. “It’s exciting that he came back here, because I think he is going to have a huge year. He’s got a lot to play for and he’s healthy and a good player for us.”

Our editors found this article on this site using Google and regenerated it for our readers.