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Jed Lowrie Had The Debilitating Knee Injury Wilmer Flores Never Had

It was officially one year ago today reports surfaced of Jed Lowrie‘s knee injury. When it first occurred, we assumed this was probably nothing more than one of those early aches some players feel during Spring Training. As is usually the case, the Mets really had no idea of the severity of the injury, how to properly manage or diagnose it, or how to get the player back on the field.

By and large, this injury kept Lowrie from playing in the field, and it limited him to just eight pinch hitting appearances in 2019. In those appearances, he had no hits, drew one walk, and struck out four times.

Fast forward to this year, and Lowrie is wearing a leg brace to help him participate in Spring Training. At the moment, no one knows if Lowrie will be able to effectively play with the brace, if he can only play with a brace, or for that matter when or if he will be able to ever play.

With all due respect to Jason Bay, Luis Castillo, Roger Cedeno, Vince Coleman, and George Foster, Lowrie is shaping up to be the absolute worst free agent signing in Mets history.

What makes this signing all the more troubling is Lowrie’s agent was Brodie Van Wagenen. If there was any GM in baseball who was well aware of the health issues of Lowrie, it would be his agent. Looking back, instead of the enthusiasm for the signing, perhaps there should have been more inquiry why a player coming off an All-Star season and had an 8.8 WAR over the previous two seasons could do not better than signing with the Mets to split time with Robinson Cano, Todd Frazier, and Amed Rosario.

The Mets have completely and utterly wasted $20 million on a player who cannot play due to knee injuries. What makes this ironic is the Mets purportedly non-tendered Wilmer Flores partially due to knee injuries which never really existed.

While it was initially reported Flores had arthritis, subsequent reports indicated that was a misdiagnosis. In fact, Flores had tendonitis. Instead of paying him less than $5 million, or working out a team friendly extension he might’ve been inclined to sign, Flores would go to Arizona.

While he had his usual health issues, Flores had a productive season with the Diamondbacks. While continuing to improve against right-handed pitching, he had a 120 wRC+, which was the best of his career. He mostly held his own at second with a -2 DRS and a 1 OAA. That’s right, according to OAA, Flores was a positive defender. Overall, he was worth a 0.8 WAR in 89 games.

Lost in that was Flores’ clutch gene. The same player who is the Mets all-time leader in game winning RBI came up huge down the stretch for the Diamondbacks. From August to the end of the season, he hit .368/.410/.623. His 166 wRC+ over this stretch ranked as the fifth best in the majors.

While this was not enough for Flores’ option to be picked up by the Diamondbacks, he was signed by the San Francisco Giants to a two year $6.25 million deal. In total, that’s $10 million over three years for Flores. Put another way, that’s what Lowrie made in 2019 alone for his eight pinch hitting attempts.

Going forward, the Mets attempts to get another team to take on Lowrie’s contract so they could make another move failed. Meanwhile, Flores is 28 years old and in the prime of his career. Seeing the continued improvements he has made against right-handed pitching and OAA rating his defense much better, Flores could out-play his contract.

In the end, the Mets had a player in Flores who was popular, had a right-handed bat which complimented their heavy left-handed hitting lineup, was comfortable and effective on the bench, and could backup at all four infield positions. Rather than keep him around, Van Wagenen opted to sign his former client who cannot play to a $20 million deal.

15 thoughts on “Jed Lowrie Had The Debilitating Knee Injury Wilmer Flores Never Had”

  1. LongTimeFan1 says:

    It’s rather obvious Lowrie didn’t have that knee problem before signing. He played in over 150 games in both 2018 and 2019.

    The knee injury – structural instability – is likely to cost him his career if that brace doesn’t allow him to play at solid level and surgery isn’t option. As you know, Metsdaddy, that injury occurred in spring training 2019.

    Lowrie seems to be in that gray area right now – not a surgical candidate, but not able to play without structural support.

    It was time to move on from Flores. Great guy, clutch hitter, true, blue Met, but much too slow, especially to play defense on left side.

    He hit well with the D’Backs, mainly played second, missed two months with foot injury after hit by pitch. and the D’Backs opted not to extend him just like the Mets who non-tendered him the year before.

    Flores is also very slow runner, averaged 25.4 feet per second in 2019, close to the slowest 4-position infield utility player in the majors. Couple that with defensive shortcomings including long arm action, he wasn’t good fit for the bench.

    His defense is liability, particularly from left side and when plays too much.

    Flores has little opposite field power – just 17 oppo doubles and only one oppo homer and 0 oppo triples in his career.

    For his career, has 2 triples and 3/6 steals.

    He also gets over exposed at the plate when plays too much.

    The Giants signed him to bat against lefties. Their goal in the offseason was to sign two such free agents. The other was Hunter Pence.

    Basically, as Mets utility player, he didn’t fit, hence non-tendered after 2018 season.

    Lowrie switch hits, and was 26.7 feet per second runner in 2018.

    If Mets had crystal ball and knew he was going to sustain possible career ending injury to his knee ligaments, which also impacted his legs on that side of his body, they wouldn’t have signed him.

    Instead of trying to woo Flores this offseason on two year deal, the Mets went with Eduardo Nunez on minor league deal.

    Nunez isn’t good defensive player either, but he’s very athletic, has played some outfield in addition to third, second and short, has above average wheels averaging 28.1 feet per second. If he makes the team, that’s speed off the bench and career batting average and OBP similar to Flores, with better career exit Velo.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      I really don’t know how it’s obvious Lowrie didn’t have the knee problem when he signed.

      Seriously, how does he suddenly develop a degenerative knee issue in Spring Training before games?

      As for Flores, it wasn’t time to move on. Not in the least.

      1. LongTimeFan1 says:

        Who says he has degenerative knee issue?

        Per Luis Rojas, he has stability issue

        Stability = Ligament problem. Ligaments hold joints together. He probably either stretched or partially tore one or more ligaments. There might not be surgical fix for that – especially stretched ligaments.

        For all we know, perhaps he had a plasma injection this offseason.

        His footspeed in 2017 and 2018 was the same 26.7 ft/sec. There was no drop off. He actually was faster in 2018 and 2019 than 2015-2016

        https://baseballsavant.mlb.com/savant-player/jed-lowrie-476704?stats=statcast-r-running-mlb

        That big brace, offers structural support. He can’t play without it.

        The question now is, can he play big league ball with it and be effective?

        If the answer is no, it’s likely the end of his career unless he’s surgical candidate.

        1. LongTimeFan1 says:

          Correction On:

          “He actually was faster in 2018 and 2019 than 2015-2016”

          Meant faster in 2017 and 2018 than 2015-2016.

        2. metsdaddy says:

          After a full year with zero improvements and an inability to identify any structural issues and the complete absence of a specific event leading to injury, this is very clearly degenerative.

  2. Bob says:

    Foster and Castillo were obtain via trade not free agency.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      While both were originally obtained via trade, they were given free agents deals

      1. Bob says:

        Foster was never a free agent. He signed an extension as part of the trade.

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