Wilmer Flores showed his love for the Mets when he fought back tears in the middle of game back in 2015 after hearing he had been traded.
Though that deal fell through, now his departure is for real.The 27-year-old infielder was the only player the Mets did not tender a contract to prior to Friday night’s deadline, according to a source.
The Mets had five obvious no-brainers, deciding to tender contracts to Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, Steven Matz and Michael Conforto.
And while the Mets will be parting ways with Flores, struggling catcher Travis D’Arnaud will remain.
D’Arnaud has been unable to stay healthy throughout his career. He missed most of the 2018 season after Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament and has had issues with concussions and broken bones.
The 29-year-old earned $3.475 million in 2018 and is projected to receive a nominal raise according to MLBTradeRumors.com projections.
D’Arnaud, who was the key piece the Mets received in the R.A. Dickey deal until he was surpassed by Syndergaard, is known as a good pitch-framer, but has also struggled mightily to hold runners. Offensively, he has also struggled. He has a .241/.302/.410 slash line with 47 home runs in parts of six seasons with the Mets.
D’Arnaud had still not established himself as the everyday catcher at this point, sharing time with Kevin Plawecki to start last season.
While the Mets are openly looking for an upgrade at catcher via the free-agent market or a trade, the options out there are pretty thin.
Yasmani Grandal and Martin Maldonado are the top catchers available on the free-agent market. The trade market has J.T. Realmuto, but the Marlins reportedly want a huge haul of prospects in return.
Flores, on the other hand, seemed to be expendable because of the Mets’ expected deal to bring Robinson Cano to Flushing, especially since they did not include Jeff McNeil in the deal. That gives them depth in the infield even without Flores.
Flores, 27, finished 2018 with a .267/.319/.417 slash line in 386 at-bats. Against left-handed pitching, Flores has a career .780 OPS which the Mets could use, but he likely priced himself out of that role.
After beating the Mets in arbitration two years ago, Flores was due to make a projected $4.7 million this year, according to MLBTradeRumors. That’s a $1.3 million raise from last season. Flores has also battled injuries, including a diagnosis of early-onset arthritis in both his knees this season.