Wilmer Flores’s tenth season in the Mets’ organization was a quiet success. Though there was no tears of joy moment this season, the 26-year-old plugged along in a semi-reserve role, launching 18 home runs and running a 106 wRC+ in 362 PA before a broken nose ended his season in early September. The Mets finally stopped playing him at shortstop, but he appeared everywhere else around the infield, filling in as injuries and trades continued to punch holes in the Mets’ position player depth. He was above average defensively at first, average at second, and well below average at third, pretty much in line with his career marks despite relatively small sample sizes
While unremarkable, Flores’s 2017 further cemented the type of player he is. He’ll hit for an okay average, show a bit of pop, and hardly every walk while being a below-average but not disastrous defender. His peripheral metrics didn’t shift much either, as he maintained 2016’s fly ball rate gains and boosted his hard hit rate a tick, but there were no major changes in approach. One would hope that the juiced ball and heavier emphasis on hitting homers would have helped Wilmer tap into his power a bit more, but his ISO increased only slightly from 2016. Despite that, it’s a useful profile even after accounting for the slight salary bump he should be due in arbitration after making $2.2 million this year.
As of right now, Flores is in line to be the starting second baseman for the 2018 Mets, and that’s fine. Unfortunately for the Mets and Flores, they need something more than fine from some spot on the infield, and Flores might be the least entrenched player. Amed Rosario is going to be the starting shortstop, and Asdrubal Cabrera will probably be the starting third baseman after the Mets pick up his option (no, they’re not signing Mike Moustakas).
That leaves second base and first base as spots for the Mets to upgrade, and Dom Smith’s prospect pedigree probably earns him some run as the starting first baseman. Flores, therefore, could wind up as the odd man out, despite what is perfectly adequate production for a major league second baseman. Maybe if Michael Conforto was healthy and the Mets had a productive hitter somewhere else on the diamond, Wilmer Flores could slot in the seventh slot of the lineup and put up slightly above average production. Instead, the current status of the Mets’ roster might force them to look elsewhere.
At worst, Flores will once again be the fifth infielder on a team with significant question marks in front of him. He may not be the starter in name, but he could very easily accrue 400 or more plate appearances as he moves around the diamond to cover for veteran injuries and poor rookie performance. If the Mets are even more financially strapped than we believe, then he’ll probably be looking at his first full time job since FloreSS was a thing back in 2015.