As the tender/non-tender deadline came and went on November 30th, the New York Mets chose not to offer a contract to infielder Wilmer Flores making him a free agent. Given the Milwaukee Brewers’ need at second base, Flores could be an ideal free agent signing.
The Milwaukee Brewers have a few areas to address this offseason and after making the decision to not bring back Jonathan Schoop, it has been confirmed that second base is on that list.
The 27-year-old Wilmer Flores has spent his entire career up to this point with the New York Mets. He has provided them with versatility around the infield and has had a solid bat along the way. This could make Flores a nice fit for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2019.
Flores at the plate
Appearing in 126 games this past season, Flores put together a nice season recording a slash line of .267/.319/.417, with an OPS of .736. All of which are very similar to his career averages. Flores also added 11 home runs, 51 RBIs and 29 walks.
Perhaps what GM David Stearns may find most appealing about Flores is his ability to put the ball in play and his low strikeout rate. That’s an ability that Stearns holds in very high regard.
In 2018 Flores had 386 at-bats and struck out just 42 times, a strikeout rate of just 10.9.%. Over his career Flores has struck out in just 14% of his at-bats, so the Milwaukee Brewers can be confident that last season wasn’t a fluke.
Where does Flores fit in defensively?
During his time with the Mets, Flores has played all four infield positions. But as a Brewer, playing second base would be his primary role. Even better, he also gives Milwaukee the flexibility to have him at third.
Although most of 2018 was spent at first base for Flores, in 2016 and 2017 he made a majority of his starts at third base and also spent some time at second. Since 2015, Flores has made just three errors when playing second base.
Flores’ ability to be moved between second and third will give manager Craig Counsell the option to interchange him and Travis Shaw between the two positions if needed. However, ideally, the Brewers will want Shaw playing third.
According to estimated arbitration figures, Flores was due a big jump in salary to roughly $4.7 million. As a free agent we can assume that Flores will be looking for a similar salary.
The issue in signing Flores is that, at just 27-years-old, he could be looking for a longer term deal. With the Brewers waiting for the arrival of Keston Hiura, a one year deal would better suit Milwaukee’s needs. They may however, be willing to sign a two year contract for the right player.
Flores could fulfill Milwaukee’s need at second for the 2019 season and be another option in addition to Hiura in 2020. Although he is a highly touted prospect, Hiura will still be a rookie and having another option at second could be beneficial.
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Addressing the need at second is a must for the Milwaukee Brewers this offseason. Given Flores’ defensive flexibility along with his ability to put the ball in play at the plate, making the call to Wilmer Flores makes sense.