The Mets’ management is on record as saying they still have an interest in adding an infielder this off-season to play either third base or second base. True to their word Monday evening they inked third baseman Todd Frazier to a two-year deal. While everyone debates the merits of signing Frazier, where exactly does that leave Wilmer Flores?
Last year, Flores split his time between first, second and third base. He was limited to 110 games in 2017, mainly because of an infected knee early in the season and then a broken nose via a foul tip on September 2nd. He should be all set to go for 2018 barring some unforeseen ST injury.
When he did play, he was an offensive force. In 362 PA he posted a slash line of .271/.307/.488 with 18 home runs. The only other infielder on the Mets roster who had similar production was Asdrubal Cabrera with a slash line of .280/.351/.434.
Of course, the main gripe with Flores has always been his defense, He did post negative UZR numbers in 2017, mainly because he had a -2.8 in 425 innings at third base. He actually had positive numbers at both second and first base, of 0.1 and 0.5 respectively. Those numbers are not going to blow anyone away, but they do indicate Flores is a relatively satisfactory defender, especially at 1st base, but not at third. His biggest problem has always been the long throws and first sackers do not have to make such throws very often.
So it seems that the most effective use of Flores would be to make him the full time first baseman, again assuming the Mets do sign a capable second or third baseman this off-season.
The competition at 1st base is not very impressive. Dom Smith had a poor debut season, with a .198/.262/.395 slash line, and a negative UZR of -0.8. Aging acquisition Adrian Gonzalez put up a .242/.287/.355 slash line with the Dodgers with a -1.4 UZR. The Mets also have Jay Bruce, who has played very few innings at 1b in his career and is likely to be needed in the outfield for at least the first part of the season due to the Michael Conforto injury.
Flores has always hit left-handed pitching well, and 2017 was no exception with a .291 BA and seven HR against southpaws. But he was also decent against right handers, with 11 HR and a .262 BA. Flores will turn 27 this year, putting him in the range of normal peak value for a player.
The bottom line is that Flores is an adequate defender at first, and he is a very good hitter who deserves to be in the lineup.