On Thursday afternoon, the New York Mets found out that infielder Wilmer Flores has arthritis in both of his knees and he won’t play again in the 2018 season.
Flores, 27, will finish the 2018 season campaign hitting .267/.319/.417 with 11 homers (lowest total since 2014), 51 RBI, 316 wOBA and a 102 wRC+ (lowest since 2015 and dropped for second straight season).
His 0.5 fWAR in 2018 was the lowest for him since his first taste of big league action back in 2013 when he played in only 27 games. His fWAR peaked at 1.7 in 2015 and has dropped every season.
Looking at some of the positives from the 2018 season for Flores was cutting his strikeouts down to a career-low 9.8% rate and is walk rate up from 4.8% in 2017 to 6.8%.
Flores will be a free agent after the 2019 season and is arbitration eligible for the last time after making $3.4 million this season. Flores played a majority of his games in 2018 at first base (83 of 126) where the Mets have Jay Bruce, Dominic Smith and Peter Alonso as options.
Second base is arguably his second best defensive position and the Mets look like they’ve found their starter at that position in Jeff McNeil. They also have Gavin Cecchini and Luis Guillorme as depth. Top prospect Andres Gimenez will likely be waiting in the wings in Triple-A and has experience at second as well.
The Mets also have utility guy T.J. Rivera that has missed the entire 2018 season after 2017 Tommy John surgery. He did play in a few rehab games before getting shut down for the season earlier this month.
Rivera (if healthy of course) plays all the same spots that Flores can, would be much cheaper and has been a better hitter in the majors (109 wRC+ compared to Flores’ 99 wRC+) though that comes in a smaller sample size.
The Mets have third base covered as well with Todd Frazier under contract for the 2019 season. So the question becomes should the Mets non-tender Flores given the depth at second and first base?