2019 Stats: .317/.361/.487, 9 HR, 37 RBI, 0.8 WAR
2019 Salary: $4,250,000 ($3,750,000 + $500,000 buyout)
2020 Salary: Free agent (team declined option)
Not entirely sure, honestly, why I signed up to write about Wilmer Flores. I think it had something to do with me liking Wilmer Flores, and also Rockkstarr12 liking Wilmer Flores, and dubbing him “Fez” fairly early on in his stay in AZ, and me liking Rockkstarr12, and me liking the fez as a hat option, because as a certain Doctor repeatedly noted, fezzes are cool. So. Here we are.
More broadly, I like players like Wilmer Flores. I’m glad players like him exist in baseball. He’s never gonna be a superstar. He’s not going to light the stands on fire. He’s a professional ballplayer, he shows up every day, he gets on well with and apparently has a positive effect on his coworkers, he does his job and he does it competently and well.
That’s pretty much who he’s been through his entire career, which was entirely as a member of the Mets until he signed with Arizona in January. He was apparently rather beloved in New York over the course of his six years, too--despite never recording an OPS greater than .795, and amassing over 400 AB in only one season, he was treated to a video tribute on Citi Field’s big board when the Diamondbacks visited in early September:
Flores put up a pretty good year for the Diamondbacks, numbers-wise, finishing second only to Ketel Marte in batting average (.317, well above his career average) and OPS (.848) among D-Backs position players. He managed that despite a fairly slow start--he batted .240 through March and April, when the rest of the offense was raking--and despite going on the DL on May 20 with a foot injury that kept him out of the lineup until after the All Star Break.
Once he returned, though, he was productive: 7 of his 9 HR (lower than we might have hoped, given his past performance, but still) came after his return from the DL, and his .964 OPS after the Break speaks for itself.
I feel like main issue with Fez, though, is that it was never entirely clear what he was for on this team, and his injury came just as various other players’ roles on the team were just starting to solidify. Presumably he was supposed to be our primary second baseman, at least when Marte was manning center field, and given that he’d played all four infield positions reasonably competently as a utility player for the Mets, he would have gotten more playing time filling in at a variety of other positions.
Turns out it didn’t work out that way...he only played 1B and 2B in 2019 (being an indifferent defender on a team that has emphasized defense over the last few years probably didn’t help), and if recollection serves he mainly moved over to 1B on days when Christian Walker was swapped out late in a game. Before he was injured, he was starting 67% of the games he appeared in; upon his return, he would up starting only a bit more than half the games he appeared in in July and August. He started in nearly all of his September appearances, but that was kind of a garbage-time phenomenon, I think.
All told, Fez appeared in a mere 89 games for us (his fewest by far since he reached the majors full-time), and only managed 285 plate appearances. Even with the good hitting numbers, that’s not a whole lot of useful work for a guy we’re paying $4.25M. I will admit that I was disappointed that the front office didn’t pick up his option for 2020, which would have paid him another $4.25M, but it’s not hard to see why they didn’t.
I haven’t been able to find any rumors regarding Wilmer since the off-season began, which isn’t terribly surprising, all things considered. He’s not the sort of player who’s likely to get snapped up first thing. We signed him on January 21st, after all. He’s undoubtedly going to have a job somewhere in 2020--as noted above, he’s a solid all-around professional, and I caan easily see him being plugged into any number of different rosters where a team has infield needs. Conceivably, he might even be back wearing Sedona Red in 2020, but it kinda feels like we’ve moved on from him. If that is indeed the case, I hope we can all wish him well going forward. He’s a class act.
Here’s his penultimate dinger in 2019, from the same day he received the video tribute above. Enjoy.