Everyone knows the story of the Wilmer Flores saga.
On July 29th during a classic seven o’clock New York Mets game, there was a trade reported that Wilmer Flores has been traded to the Brewers. Wilmer Flores began to become emotional on the baseball field after believing he was traded. After the game, there was news that there would be no trade. Flores then promptly unleashed a walk-off home run on July 31st against the 1st place Washington Nationals and established himself as a Mets folk hero. It’s a beautiful story and it is the biggest reason why Mets fans love Wilmer Flores.
Most people believe that Wilmer Flores, however, is just a beautiful story. What often goes overlooked is even at the time of the trade he was one of the better offensive shortstops in the league with a .249 batting average, 10 home runs, and 40 runs batted in. After the trading deadline, Flores batted .296 with a .479 slugging percentage. Shortstop is traditionally a position where there is not much offensive production and those shortstops that are extremely productive make extraordinary amounts of money (Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Troy Tulowitzki).
While Wilmer Flores will never be Andrelton Simmons at shortstop, he proved he could play the position every day at around league average defense. Flores is a capable shortstop who provides a tremendous amount of offensive upside while playing the position.
The Mets signed Asdrubal Cabrera to be the everyday shortstop for a 2 year 18.5 million dollar deal. This is perhaps the biggest mistake of an otherwise brilliant Mets offseason. Cabrera, 30, is arguably the same exact defender as Flores is. Additionally, Cabrera is offensively similar to Flores. Flores had a .263 average with 59 RBIs and 16 home runs. Cabrera had a .265 average with 58 RBIs and 15 home runs. The two are extremely similar in almost every regard.
The only differences between Cabrera and Flores tip in Flores’ favor. For example, Flores is making substantially less money than Cabrera because of his lack of experience thus far. Additionally, Cabrera is 30 years old and his defense is likely to start diminishing. Flores is 24 and his range likely to get better as he gets more experienced. Perhaps the biggest statistic in Flores’ favor is the amount of strikeouts of each player. Flores suffered 63 strikeouts while Cabrera suffered 107 strikeouts last season.
Everyone knows depth is what separates the good teams from the great teams. However, Flores should not be in a bench role for an inferior player. The Mets could have had faith in Flores to take the job and use Cabrera’s 8.5 million to sign a corner infield player to complement Lucas Duda and start for David Wright in case of injury. Although there is not turning back from the Cabrera signing, it would be in the Mets best interest to get Wilmer as many at-bats as possible. The Mets best lineup may actually slot Wilmer Flores at shortstop.