The most interesting players are the ones where reasonable, intelligent people can disagree. Juan Lagares and Zack Wheeler certainly fall in this category. But perhaps the poster boy for this player right now is Wilmer Flores. My personal belief is that the top priority for the Mets’ GM this offseason is to make the correct determination on which pitchers can fill which roles. But perhaps the next biggest priority is to identify the right role for Flores.
Let me state my bias upfront: Flores cannot play third base. The Mets choose to draw the line at when and where people can play defensively at odd points. They played Flores at shortstop and they played Lucas Duda in both corner outfield spots. Yet they refused to allow Flores to play the outfield, which was at least a bit curious back in the “what outfield?” days.
The defensive numbers for Flores are bad yet not Duda-in-the-OF level of terrible. But he’s both slow and without great reflexes, his glove is nothing special and his arm is neither strong nor accurate. It’s not the dream portfolio for a Gold Glove Award winner.
Still, the Mets continue to trot him out at third base so that Asdrubal Cabrera can play second base. Perhaps the Mets value a steady veteran as a DP partner for Amed Rosario as he breaks into the majors. Regardless, it still seems backwards to me.
If the Mets retain Cabrera and don’t make any significant infield acquisitions, how would you play the infield in 2018? Would you continue to play Flores at 3B? If not, shouldn’t Rosario and Flores get reps together now turning double plays? That would seem to be more beneficial in the long run than having to learn a new partner in Spring Training.
To me, the only reason that Flores should be playing third now is to play Gavin Cecchini at second base to see if he’s suited there. When the Mets punted by trading most of their veterans on expiring deals, the next logical move was to play anyone who might be able to help in 2018. That’s Cecchini in the infield and Brandon Nimmo in the outfield. Cecchini has 996 PA in Triple-A; it’s time to fish or cut bait with him.
Back to Flores. Aside from his defensive issues, there was the question if he could hit righties at all. Currently, he has a career high mark against RHP in both OPS (.789) and ISO (.190) as well as a .282 BABIP. That may seem low but for Flores, a guy who runs lower than normal BABIPs – career mark of .271 – it actually represents better than normal results in the category.
So, is this a relatively young guy hitting his stride or is it that the hits are falling in and he’s taking advantage of pitchers who haven’t adjusted to his weaknesses? Beats me but it doesn’t seem like either position is unreasonable at this point.
So, let’s see Flores with regular ABs the rest of the season. Let’s see him get time at both 2B and 3B so that Cecchini gets consistent reps, too. And let’s move Cabrera to two or three starts per week instead of every day. Let’s see how Rosario and Flores work together in the middle infield. Let’s see what Flores’ numbers look like with 100 more PA against righties.
And let’s be open to declining Cabrera’s option for 2018.