Wilmer Flores Reminding Mets Non-Tendering Him Was A Mistake
In the past offseason, Brodie Van Wagenen opted to non-tender Wilmer Flores making the player who once cried at the thought of leaving the Mets a free agent. Last night, he not only returned to New York, but he would face the Mets for the first time. In the fifth inning last night, he would homer against his former teammate Jacob deGrom:
Welcome back, Wilmer! pic.twitter.com/yFPAOZc3YY
— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) September 10, 2019
The homer was a bittersweet moment for Mets fans. In fact, there was a smattering of applause in the stands as the Mets still love and respected Wilmer. It should also be bittersweet because non-tendering him was a real mistake.
Looking back at it, Flores was a 0.5 WAR player last year. Given the construct of 1.0 WAR being worth $9 million on the free agent market, Flores was worth about $4.5 million last year, which coincidentally, was roughly what he would have been worth in arbitration.
But seeing what he was worth last year is not exactly the point. The point is when you look to sign a player, whether in free agency or arbitration, you are looking to pay for future value. With that in mind, It is important to remember Flores was a player turning 27 years old and entering his prime.
But it was more than just his entering his prime. He has cut down on his strikeouts and increasing his contact rate at the plate. It wasn’t just more contact, but it is also harder contact. It’s part of the reason why he had been above league average hitter. Part of that development as a hitter was his transitioning from being a platoon bat to being a player who could hit both right and left-handed pitching.
This is typically the part where someone jumps in to point out his defense. No, Flores is not a good defender. No one can or should claim he is. However, Flores has shown himself good at first base and passable at second. In a pinch, he is someone you could have play at third or short. No, not for more than a game or two, but there is value in his ability to stand there for a short duration.
Looking at the defense, we should remember he would have been depth on the Mets. He was a guy who could have been on the field when Todd Frazier and Robinson Cano went down. With Jeff McNeil‘s ability to play third and outfield, the Mets could have limited Flores to second. An important note here was he was a player who never complained about his role and was a good guy in the clubhouse. There is an immense amount of value in that.
We also know Flores has the clutch gene as the Mets all-time leader in walk-off hits. In extra innings, Flores is a .378/.404/.667 hitter in extra innings. This, along with the crying and his being one the players who stayed on the field longest signing autographs, made him a beloved Mets player.
So far this year, Flores is a 0.7 WAR player. That’s a higher WAR than any current Mets bench player. This highlights the Mets mistake in letting him go, and that mistake is further exacerbated when you consider the Diamondbacks are ahead of the Mets in the Wild Card standings. As time elapses, the Mets are going to have to contend with Flores helping other teams and reminding the Mets of the mistake it was letting him go.