Published on February 6th, 2017 | by Josh Chapdelaine2
Will Flores emerge as the Mets’ second baseman in 2018?
New York Mets utility infielder Wilmer Flores won his arbitration case against the team and will earn $2.2 million in 2017.
Flores recently said his preference is to play second base. The Mets presently plan to use him at first base, second base, and third base – when and where will be determined on the team’s health and pitcher matchups.
Flores, long a strong offensive option against left-handed pitchers, broke out against southpaws in 2016. His 1.093 on-base plus slugging percentage against left-handers represented the third consecutive season in which Flores has improved against lefties. However, for Flores to step in as the Mets’ full time second baseman, Neil Walker will need to suffer an injury or he will have to wait until 2018 if Walker departs the organization in free agency.
Walker accepted the New York Mets’ one-year, $17.1 million qualifying offer and will be a free agent after the 2017 season. Walker flourished with the Mets in 2016 as the 2014 Silver Slugger hit 23 home runs and produced a career-high .476 slugging percentage. Walker’s home run total equaled his 2014 total with the Pittsburgh Pirates; however, it took Walker 113 less plate appearances to do so in 2016.
Walker played through back pain from 2012-16 and will be 100 percent for the first time since. The Mets like Walker, and he likes them back, which leaves reasonable expectations that an extension could be discussed this season – but it might be mildly shocking if a new contract is agreed upon.
Based on the Mets’ future options – Flores at the forefront, but TJ Rivera, Gavin Cecchini, and Matt Reynolds all versatile infielders in their own right – a long-term extension to a 32-year-old second baseman appears to be long shot barring a drastic organizational shift in philosophy that their internal options will not be prudent in the future. The organization felt comfortable enough with its depth that they dealt Dilson Herrera to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for Jay Bruce last July.
Photo credit: Michael G. Baron