NEW YORK -- Forever embedded in Mets history due to his dramatic walk-off home run after a non-trade to the Brewers in July 2015, Wilmer Flores is on his way out of Flushing again -- this time, for real. General manager Brodie Van Wagenen continued his roster makeover on Friday,
NEW YORK -- Forever embedded in Mets history due to his dramatic walk-off home run after a non-trade to the Brewers in July 2015, Wilmer Flores is on his way out of Flushing again -- this time, for real. General manager Brodie Van Wagenen continued his roster makeover on Friday, declining to tender Flores a contract. Thus ends the infielder's 11-year run in the organization, the last six of those seasons as a big league bench bat and an occasional starter.
The Mets tendered contracts to all of their other pre-arb and arbitration-eligible players, including catcher Travis d'Arnaud.
Given Flores' production over the past four seasons -- his .530 slugging percentage against left-handed pitchers ranks 12th in the National League since 2015 -- the non-tender came as a mild surprise to some around baseball. But Flores made $3.4 million last season, and he was up for a sizable raise through arbitration. The Mets, who are likely about to take on significant cash in a trade for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz, were unwilling to pay that much for a player who profiles as a bench option.
In recent years, the Mets have shied away from using Flores on the left side of the infield given his defensive limitations. But with Cano potentially entrenched at second base and Jeff McNeil his primary backup, and with Peter Alonso -- like Flores, a right-handed batter -- set to see significant time at first base over the summer, the playing time options for Flores appeared limited.
Still, Flores has been an ultra-popular figure at Citi Field since July 2015, when, believing he had been traded, he openly wept on the infield dirt during a game. Two nights later, after New York's deal with the Brewers fell through, Flores hit a dramatic walk-off home run that helped spark the Mets on their run to the World Series.
If the Mets were going to non-tender anyone prior to Friday's deadline, many around the industry expected it to be d'Arnaud, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery and is no lock to be ready for Opening Day. The oft-injured d'Arnaud has averaged 73 games per year since his first full season in 2014, batting .248 with a .725 OPS in those contests.
Keeping d'Arnaud does not necessarily mean the Mets are set at the catching position in 2019. The Mets were among those interested in Cleveland catcher Yan Gomes, according to a source, though a source told MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi that the Indians are close to a deal to send him to the Nationals. New York can browse a robust free-agent market that includes Yasmani Grandal, Wilson Ramos and Martin Maldonado, the latter a defensive whiz who would impact the Mets' high-upside pitching staff. Or they could try to spring another blockbuster trade for Marlins All-Star J.T. Realmuto. In any event, d'Arnaud's contract is not guaranteed; the Mets can still decide to cut him through March, and owe him only a fraction of whatever salary he winds up making.
At the GM Meetings in early November, Van Wagenen said he is "in a fortunate position where we don't have to do anything in the catcher market," but went on to say he expects to consider possible upgrades. Van Wagenen did not respond to a message seeking comment on the tender decisions of d'Arnaud and Flores.
The Mets tendered contracts to all of their other arbitration-eligible players: Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, Michael Conforto, Steven Matz and Kevin Plawecki. Those six combined to make approximately $14 million last season, and they could more than double through the arbitration process.
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.