As Non-Tender Deadline Looms, Mets Have Decisions to Make

The deadline for major league teams to decide whether or not they want to non-tender arbitration eligible players is Friday.

While the New York Mets have eight players eligible for arbitration, only two are possible non-tenders in catcher Travis d’Arnaud and infielder Wilmer Flores.

Flores, 27, is projected to make $4.7 million in arbitration according to MLB Trade Rumors for the 2019 season. The utility infielder will be a free agent after that, and is coming off a season in which he hit .267/.319/.417 with 25 doubles, 11 home runs and 51 RBI.

Flores saw his wRC+ drop for the second straight season, down to 103, his lowest since 2014. His 0.5 fWAR was the worst since 2013 (when he played only 27 games).

The calling card for Flores has been success against lefties with a career line of .265/.309/.471 (113 OPS+) in 573 plate appearances, and his knack for a big hit, holding a team record with 10 walk-off RBIs.

The biggest issue with Flores is his defense of course. He was a below average defender at third, second and first base this season. During his career, first base has been his best defensive spot with -2 DRS and 2.0 UZR in 989 innings.

Flores is a .262/.303/.424 hitter in 581 MLB games. He had his 2018 season cut short in 2018 after being diagnosed with arthritis in both knees. He made $3.4 million this past year.

D’Arnaud, 29, has been projected by MLBTR to get a raise up $3.7 million for the 2019 season, his last one with the Mets before free agency.

A one-time top catching prospect, d’Arnaud made $3,475,000 in 2018 when he played in only four games before Tommy John surgery ended his season in April.

D’Arnaud is a career .245/.306/.406 hitter over 397 games for the Mets. He was acquired by the Mets in the trade that sent R.A. Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays.

On the defensive side, d’Arnaud has been a strong framer (9th among MLB catchers in 2017, 14th in 2016, 10th in 2015), has been a positive blocker in two of the last three seasons but has struggled immensely with throwing runners out.

The Mets have already shown interest in free agent catchers Wilson Ramos, Martin Maldonado and Yasmani Grandal, as they look to find a lead catcher. Kevin Plawecki has shown he can have value as a backup, though that is likely the extent of his value.

LHP Steven Matz (projected $3.0M), RHP Jacob deGrom ($12.9M), RHP Noah Syndergaard ($5.9), RHP Zack Wheeler ($5.3M), C Kevin Plawecki ($1.3M) and OF Michael Conforto ($4.4M) round out the Mets arbitration eligible players this offseason.

My Verdict

I would non-tender both Flores and d’Arnaud, assuming you can’t work out a trade for either. I don’t see the value in keeping Flores around at that price tag. First base is really the only spot he can play defensively, and his offense (103 wRC+ in 2018/99 in career) is below average for that position (105 wRC+ in 2018).

Plus, Mets first base prospect Peter Alonso is likely to be up early in the 2018 season, leaving little to no playing time for Flores at first. That leaves you to pay a pinch hitting, platoon guy with bad overall defense almost $5 million? Doesn’t make much sense for a team on a fairly limited budget.

The decision for me on d’Arnaud is even easier given the amount of talent available on the market (free agency and trade) including Yasmani Grandal, Wilson Ramos, Yan Gomes, Francisco Cervelli, etc.

Even if the Mets strike out on adding an upgrade at catcher, they can circle back around to d’Arnaud at a lower rate. He will likely be a late sign given his recovery from April Tommy John surgery.

About Michael Mayer 1175 Articles
Lifelong Mets fan born in 1987 meaning I still haven't witnessed a championship. Lived in Maine my entire life so I get my Mets fix from MLB.tv and MiLB.tv. Still playing and coaching baseball.Follow me on twitter @mikemayermmo