Posted on February 4, 2020, by Bryan Zarpentine
It’s been a quiet offseason for the San Francisco Giants. But they merely decided to wait a little while to get some things done. On Tuesday, the Giants agreed to a deal with versatile infielder Wilmer Flores. It’s reportedly a two-year deal worth at least $6 million with a club option for the 2022 season. Wilmer will head to San Francisco after spending last season in the NL West with the Diamondbacks, who declined his 2020 option following the season, making him a free agent for the second straight winter.
The 28-year-old Flores spent the first six seasons of his career with the Mets and was their starting shortstop during the 2015 World Series. But he’s moved around to all four infield spots during his career. He was used primarily as a second baseman with the Diamondbacks last year. However, he’s probably capable of serving as at least a backup anywhere on the infield, which helps add to his value.
Of course, his real value comes from his bat, specifically the way he mashes left-handed pitching. A foot injury cost Flores a decent chunk of the season in 2019. But he managed to finish strong, hitting .350 with an OPS of .964 after the all-star break, making it a little surprising that it took this long for a team to grab him. In just 265 at-bats in 2019, he hit .317 with an OPS of .848, but those numbers ballooned to .337 with an OPS of .982 against lefties. Obviously, Flores does most of his damage against left-handed pitching, but he’s a good enough hitter to carve out an everyday role if he can stay healthy.
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With the Giants, Flores should get a chance to earn the everyday job at second base. At the moment, Donovan Solano, Kean Wong, and Mauricio Dubon are on San Francisco’s depth chart at the keystone. Solano impressed with San Francisco last year, albeit in a part-time role. Meanwhile, Wong and Dubon haven’t established themselves as capable hitters in the majors. That leaves the door wide open for Flores to become San Francisco’s primary second baseman in 2020 and beyond.
As mentioned, Flores has the defensive versatility to move around the infield if Solano, Wong, or Dubon also prove to be a viable option at second base. Given the struggles Brandon Belt has had with left-handed pitchers, the Giants could shift Flores to first base against lefties in favor of Belt. He could also be a temporary fill-in at third base for Evan Longoria.
Defense aside, Flores will add some much-needed pop to San Francisco’s lineup. The Giants had no player hit more than 21 home runs last season, which is an issue they needed to address this winter. Flores has never hit more than 18 home runs in a season and doesn’t show much power against righties. However, he’s also never made it to 500 at-bats in a season. Whether he continues to have a part-time role or becomes an everyday player, he’ll surely provide more power than San Francisco’s other options at second base.
Obviously, Flores doesn’t move the needle that much, especially for a team that has long odds of being a playoff contender in 2020. But his bat makes him a clear upgrade over what the Giants got from their second basemen last year. He’s also a better option than the current second basemen on their roster. At age 28, his best years could still be ahead of him, and with the Giants giving him a multi-year deal, signing Flores is a positive move San Francisco in 2020 and beyond.