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Arizona Diamondbacks sign Wilmer Flores

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It’s a one-year deal with a club option for the infielder

New York Mets v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Jeff Passan of ESPN [I’m still having consciously not to type Yahoo!] was the first to report the news, following up on a report by colleague Pedro Gomez. It’s pending physicals, and there’s no word to this point on the price. Flores was non-tendered by the Mets at the end of November: he was in his third year of arbitration eligibility and was probably going to have received a sizeable increase on his $3.4 million salary for 2018 (MLBTR estimated $4.7m). He appeared in 126 games for New York, hitting .267/.319/.417, for a .736 OPS (107 OPS+). Last season, he started most at first, but also at second and third; overall in his career, Flores has seen more time at short, but hasn’t appeared much there since 2015.

It’s hard to say for sure what this might mean for the 2019 Diamondbacks. Is the plan for Flores to play first, like he did in 2018, thereby filling the gap left by Paul Goldschmidt’s trade to St. Louis? According to Steve Gilbert, no. They will play Flores at second, and move Ketel Marte to center field. So the question of first-base would remain unaddressed, but a Jake Lamb/Christian Walker platoon there appears the most likely outcome, with Eduardo Escobar becoming the everyday third baseman, and Nick Ahmed continuing his defensive wizardry at short.

However, the Mets viewed him differently, their GM Brodie Van Wagenen saying in November, “I think from a defensive standpoint we wouldn’t ask too much of him to go and play around the diamond. I think our view for him is that he would be predominantly a first-base option or a power bat off the bench.” The metrics over Flores’s career tend to support keeping him on the right-hand side of the infield. His UZR/150 around the infield are as follows: +2.9 at first; +1.5 at second; -2.3 at short; and -2.4 at third, with between 733-1,313 innings played at those positions. But flexibility of position is in line with what Mike Hazen and Torey Lovullo have espoused before, so we may see Flores at more than one spot.

His release from the Mets was seen as something of a surprise. But with the newly-arrived Robinson Cano occupying second, and slugging prospect Peter Alonso probably going to see a lot of time at first, there was no regular role open to Flores this year. He became a fan favorite in the Big Apple, after cameras caught him crying on the field following a reported trade to Milwaukee [Tom Hanks shakes his head disapprovingly] The trade fell through, and Flores proved a key component in the Mets’ run to the World Series that year. There are some health concerns, which may explain the short length of the contract. He finished last year with early-onset arthritis, though that diagnosis was later revised to tendinitis.

Update: Details of the contract

Update 2: Tim Locastro also acquired

Another multiple-position player, Locastro has started minor-league games at five different positions: 1B, 2B, SS, CF and LF. He appeared in 21 games for the Dodgers over the last two seasons, but managed only 15 PA, going 2-for-11 with a pair of walks. He is 5:0 in stolen-bases in the majors and went 23:3 at all levels last year, so does seem to have some wheels. I’m thinking minor-league depth and possibly a September call-up to run the bases.