Posted on January 16, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
Despite being non-tendered by the Mets earlier this offseason, infielder Wilmer Flores has landed on his feet with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Flores and the D’Backs have agreed to a one-year deal worth $3.75 million. The contract also includes a club option of $6 million for the 2020 season or a $500,000 buyout, guaranteeing Flores at least $4.25 million for his services in 2019.
However, Flores has also become a defensive liability over the past year or two. Despite being a shortstop when he first broke into the big leagues, Flores is best served at first base these days. He’s capable of playing all four infield positions, giving him plenty of versatility. But his range is somewhat lacking and the accuracy of his throws left something to be desired this past season.
Flores being non-tendered by the Mets was a mild surprise. He has long been a fan favorite in New York ever since he was visibly crying on the field in 2015 when he thought he had been traded. Flores has also had a knack for clutch hits over the years. In fact, he leads the majors in walk-off hits over the last four seasons with seven. The 27-year old also provides plenty of pop, hitting 61 home runs over the past four seasons despite being a part-time player. As a result, he’s best off at first base, a position where the Mets have several other options, leading them to part ways with Flores this winter.
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Of course, New York’s loss is Arizona’s potential gain. While not a star by any stretch, Flores has produced consistent numbers over the last four seasons, again, despite being a part-time player. Aside from his propensity for coming through in the clutch, Flores has also crushed left-handed pitching. He hasn’t always been given a chance to play consistently against righties. But Flores has been a good bet to hit when starting against left-handed pitching.
With the Diamondbacks, Flores will have a chance to get most of the playing time at first base. Arizona’s other options at first base are journeyman Christian Walker, who’s unproven in the big leagues, and Jake Lamb, who has limited experience at first base. Lamb is likely to see more time at first base this season with the D’Backs retaining Eduardo Escobar. But given his struggles hitting lefties, he and Flores should complement each other well as platoon partners at first base.
Meanwhile, Flores should provide depth in the middle infield for Ketel Marte and Nick Ahmed. He could play second base whenever Marte shifts to shortstop to spell Ahmed. Marte could also get plenty of playing time in center field this season after Jarrod Dyson’s offensive struggles last year. The Diamondbacks will surely get Flores in the lineup to face left-handed pitchers. But if he can produce against righties as well, there are several ways they’ll be able to keep his bat in the lineup.
Obviously, Flores isn’t a major addition for a team that was just two games over .500 last season. But despite his defensive shortcomings, he provides plenty of flexibility. He’s also a proven big league hitter with some pop and a flair for the dramatic. At age 27, Flores should have plenty of productive years left, and in a more hitter-friendly environment in Arizona, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Flores have a big year with his new team in 2019.