Mets general manager Sandy Alderson reiterated on Wednesday that, in all likelihood, Wilmer Flores will be the team’s starting shortstop on Opening Day 2015.

“We’ve continued to have conversations, but nothing is likely to occur,” Alderson told Mike Puma of the New York Post.

With the Mets looking to compete for the first time since 2008, this sort of offseason stagnancy can understandably drive fans up a wall. In this case, however, the Mets faithful should feel okay—happy, even—about giving Flores a shot.

Yes, there’s a sense of deja vu after last year’s offseason, when Alderson said finding a shortstop would be a priority, didn’t sign one and made Ruben Tejada the 2014 shortstop by default.

But Tejada and Flores are very different cases—almost polar opposites, in fact, in terms of their respective skill sets. Tejada is a plus defensive shortstop with just 84 extra-base hits in 1,571 major league at-bats. Flores is a shaky defensive shortstop who’s proven he can hit at every stop of his professional career.

Is he Troy Tulowitzki? Of course not. The Rockies shortstop, when healthy, is a better ballplayer than Tejada and Flores combined.

Rumors of a potential trade between the Mets and Rockies have been swirling all winter, but Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News reports that talks seem to have cooled because the Rockies’ asking price is too high.

The Mets’ concerns are valid: They’re reluctant to give up their top pitching prospect, Noah Syndergaard, and possibly another promising arm like Zack Wheeler or Jacob deGrom.

Tulowitzki has missed 213 games to injury over the past three seasons, and the $114 million remaining on his contract until 2020 (per Spotrac) would be a big investment for a team with an infamously tight budget.

For the right price, sure, trade for Tulo. But it’s not worth surrendering two pitchers with star potential, especially when you have Flores as your fallback.

Offensively, Flores has impressed scouts every step of the way. He cracked Baseball Prospectus’ top 101 prospects list at No. 71 last January, when the BP team had this to say (subscription required) about his bat:

Excellent hand-eye coordination; good bat speed; good bat control; able to manipulate barrel in the zone; hit tool is a 5; a few sources had it rated slightly higher; raw power is plus…aggressive hitter that can punish mistakes.  

Has the raw pop to hit 17-25 home runs at the highest level…has the potential to hit ~.270 because of contact ability.

In 162 games at Triple-A Las Vegas between 2013-14, Flores raked, hitting 28 home runs and driving in 143.

To be fair, Vegas is a hitter’s paradise, and Flores did struggle during his first MLB cup of tea in 2013. His May and June performance with the Mets in 2014 was not much better, but once he began playing every day, Flores hit his stride.

From July 29 through the end of the season, making almost every start at shortstop, Flores posted a slash line of .262/.301/.419 with five homers in 172 at-bats, despite a relatively low BABIP of .258. Over the final month, his OPS was .791. Best of all: The Venezuela native just turned 23 in August.

The bigger concern, of course, is his defense. In BP‘s top 101 last year, Flores was listed as a second baseman with this assessment: “Not a graceful athlete; 3 run; limited range on left-side of infield; glove actions are good, but footwork is clumsy; arm is average; best defensive profile is 1B.”

Flores played shortstop in the minors from 2008-11, but for the reasons stated above, he began splitting time between second, third and first in 2012-13. He played shortstop for the first time in three years in 2014.

And yet, as Carson Cistulli of FanGraphs pointed out in September, Flores was actually “not a disaster” in the field last season.

He certainly showed signs of that clumsy footwork and limited range, but as Mike Vorkunov of noted, he ranked 21st in defensive runs saved among 38 shortstops with 400-plus innings. In a small sample size, Flores held his own.

A double-play combo of Flores and Daniel Murphy is not exactly ideal, but the Mets, more than anything, need pop in their lineup.

Just like Murphy did at second, Flores could become a serviceable shortstop if he puts in the work.

Alderson has been known to say one thing publicly and then do the exact opposite, so he may still have another trick up his sleeve. But the shortstop market is running thin. The Yankees re-signed Stephen Drew to a one-year deal on Tuesday, and Hanley Ramirez, Jed Lowrie, Asdrubal Cabrera and Jung-ho Kang have all been snatched up.

Everth Cabrera is still a free agent, though he’s facing up to one year in jail for resisting arrest, and his career .248/.319/.333 slash line won’t make your mouth water.

The Mariners have two young shortstops in Brad Miller and Chris Taylor, and’s Adam Rubin has suggested Seattle could make a good trade partner for the Mets. Puma reported they are shopping right-hander Dillon Gee.

But Flores, more so than Cabrera, Miller or Taylor, poses an offensive threat. If his defense becomes too great a liability, Alderson could always look to swing a midseason deal with a team in need of pitching.

For now? Flores deserves a chance to blossom.


Stats courtesy of unless otherwise noted. 

Read more MLB news on