Reese Kaplan -- An Attractive Asset to Trade


Everyone remembers the iconic video of Wilmer Flores’ tear-streaked face when he learned via social media in the middle of a ballgame that he had apparently been traded on July 30, 2015 to the Milwaukee Brewers for former Met Carlos Gomez.  You had to feel for the guy who started off with the Mets organization at the tender age of 16 from Venezuela and for 7 years it was the only baseball home he knew.  We also all know the rest of the story – that the deal fell through pending some physical info about Carlos Gomez and the Mets’ consolation prize turned out to be Yoenis Cespedes.  The rest, as they say, is history.

As the Mets dodged multiple injuries over the past several years (most notably from David Wright and Ruben Tejada) it almost seemed as if the club was going out of its way not to play the man.  Granted, he’s never going to win a Gold Glove (or a Silver or a Bronze), but his bat certainly suggested they needed to find the man at-bats.  In his first extended look in the championship year of 2015 he rewarded them with 16 HRs, 59 RBIs and a .263 batting average – number from a shortstop extrapolated for a full season that would put him in pretty heady company with the likes of Francisco Lindor, Corey Seager, Xander Bogaerts or Carlos Correa. 

Of course, his defensive shortcomings limited his usefulness at that position and back to the bench he went when the Mets signed Asdrubal Cabrera to play shortstop for 2016.  Nevermind the fact that Cabrera’s defensive numbers were actually worse than Flores’, but this time the roll of the dice came up sevens for Sandy Alderson.  Cabrera was solid defensively and provide great offensive spark as well last year.

Flores’ role became that of super utility in the mold of a Ben Zobrist (minus the outfield duty).  He played primarily against left handed pitching and mashed them to the tune of a stat line of 16 HRs and 49 RBIs in 180 fewer ABs while hitting .267.  For once perhaps Terry Collins was onto something. 

This year the team started off with no David Wright, so a thinking man would have surmised that a guy with a 20+ HR power and 90+ RBI potential should man the hot corner in his absence.  Nope.  It went to former wunderkind Jose Reyes who has had nearly three months to prove he’s washed up and still looking uphill at the Mendoza line. 

What has Flores done?  Well, playing some combination of 3B, 2B and even 1B he has hit nearly .300 with 6 HRs and 20 RBIs in 162 ABs.  Extrapolate that over a full season and he’s over 20 HRs again with an improved batting average.  Even the most jaded among us would probably now concede the man can hit. 

The problem is what to do with him defensively.  He’s a hold-your-breath 3rd baseman.  His footwork is arguaby too slow for the athleticism required of either of the middle infield positions.  That pretty much leaves 1B where the incumbent is Lucas Duda and breathing down his neck is near-top prospect Dominic Smith.  So is Flores destined for the utility role purgatory going forward?

Perhaps instead it is time to revisit the trade market with Flores being peddled as a DH to an AL team along with other components to bring back a position of need – centerfield, catcher or middle relief.  He’s fairly inexpensive this year at $2.2 million and isn’t eligible to be a free agent until 2020.  Yes, that’s attractive to the Mets, too, but unless they have a firm plan in place to make him a regular he might be more valuable as a chip.  Other clubs might salivate over a young productive hitter who isn’t expected to provide any defense or baserunning speed whatsoever.  Towards that end they might be willing to part with their excess. 

While the Mets have yet to declare this season a lost cause, might it bring a bigger haul for Flores to peddle him at the trading deadline to a contender than you might otherwise get in the off-season?  If by mid-July the front office acknowledges the reality of 2017 and in addition to posting a “For Sale” sign on the players whose contracts are expiring, shouldn’t they also see if they could net a top prospect or two if you moved Flores sooner rather than later?  There’s risk in trading Flores who calls to mind another misfit infielder by the name of Jeff Kent delivering the 20/80 level of production but was shipped away and put together a borderline HOF career. 

At the major league level the Mets have several assets to trade who are half-season rentals, including Lucas Duda, Curtis Granderson, Neil Walker, Jay Bruce and Addison Reed.  Cabrera is a little more long term as an option exists on his contract.  Ditto Jerry Blevins.  However, for a club interested in the long term, the Mets don’t have much to offer assuming Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto and the starting pitchers are off the table.  Travis d’Arnaud has not proven valuable enough to keep, hence he’s got no value in trade.  Consequently Flores and T.J. Rivera are about it at the major league level.  Since Rivera’s defense is less atrocious than Flores’ he may be the one you want to keep in the NL.  


Thomas Brennan said...

Flores is that conundrum - would his bat ascend to a higher, dangerous level if traded. 2B who have moved on from the Mets? Bad track record with Murphy, Turner, and Kent.

Mack Ade said...

I like your thinking here.

We need a real second baseman that can play flawless defense and hit in the .250-.275 range. This has always been a defense first position.

We know our other 2018 needs... SPs, RF, C, 3B

Flores might be able to get the ball rolling (without kicking it) and start the off-season process.

BTW... how many more embarrassing losses against superior teams is it going to take to throw the towel in?

Viper said...

Everyone now wishes that Murphy was still playing 2B for the Mets, but, isn't Murphy's glove just as bad as Flores? The Mets have a way of making players part timers where other teams see everyday productive players.

The next mistake in my view will be when they trade Lagares who will be given the everyday CF job and run with it.

Flores best position would be 1B and could still be if Smith doesn't pan out but if not 1B, then 2B should be it.

Either way, these Mets need to clean house and go with youth. Its such a pleasure to see the Dodgers kids mashing. Too bad is not the type of baseball played in Queens.

Here we need to get them going regardless of how bad they are doing.

Viper said...

Why do I keep thinking Keppinger?

Zozo said...

I would keep Flores and play him at 3rd. Everything me else trade ASAP. I would trade the whole bullpen including Blevins, Familia and Reed. They might bring back the most value to us.
1)I would target the 3rd base prospect on the Red Sox
2) Chance Sisco from Orioles at Catcher
3) clint Frazier for CF from the Skanks

Reese Kaplan said...

I think the main theme here is CHANGE. It should start at the top with Alderson taking a much needed health retirement, Collins taking a mental health retirement, and then unloading as much as possible as quickly as possible to replenish the barren farm system.

Anonymous said...


Sorry for the shouting, but what was obvious to me a month ago is now becoming painfully obvious to the rest of baseball.

The Mets are a bad team and like Reese said, CHANGE is needed.

2017 is done, so every move going forward should be with 2018 and beyond in mind. That includes cashing in veteran assets for prospects and it also includes elevating some of the kids to see what we have and to finalize our "needs" for the off season.


Reese Kaplan said...

The problem with evaluating the "kids" is that the manager won't play them unless he has ho other option. How many more weeks of starting did Jose Reyes buy himself with his two HR performance the other day? Nevermind that he struck out when it was a crucial time in the game. Or that he took a collar the next day. Hell, I'd rather see Matt Reynolds than Jose Reyes (and Amed Rosario than either one of them).

Thomas Brennan said...

Viper, after 2015, I wanted the Mets to trade the low energy Lucas Duda and put Murphy at 1B. He could have moved to 3B in a pinch.

Keppinger seems a good comparison for TJ Rivera to me, if that is who you were comping. Flores has too much power to compare to Keppy.

Thomas Brennan said...

Reese, I think Jose was kept in by the braintrust in case the veterans collectively could turn it around. But after the last 6 games, that plan has collapsed - they won't get in the playoffs - so it is absolutely time to play the kids.

They may wait 2 more games to see if they can stop the Dodger freefall - I hope they instead lose both and the white flag goes up, and related appropriate "sell" actions become the focus, and young guys get full preference.

Jose may have some value to a contender as a back up IF with speed.

Reese Kaplan said...

@Viper -- Jeff Keppinger was another guy like Rivera who could hit but without much power. He put together a long career but mostly as a fill-in player and finished with a .282 career average. He was a right handed version of another former Met, Dave Magadan -- no power, no speed, but a good hitter.

Adam Smith said...

I would actually be fine with Flores at 2B full time next season. He would be a tick below average defensively, but a plus there with the bat. And despite the temptation to keep Bruce, I worry that putting Conforto in CF, where he can fake it, but doesn't really belong, will impact his hitting and tire out his legs over a long season. You already know that you should be fine defensively (finally) at SS next year with Rosario. I like the idea of a CF who can actually play plus defense. I would still like to think that Lagares can be an asset there, but definitely getting concerned about his injury issues (though his legs seem fine, and his arm is good again) I would be targeting a big time 3B, definitely, and probably a CF. 3B has to be an impact player though, it's the only spot where you can really upgrade into star territory, and you have to get the most out of it. Harder to find a potential all-star CF. I'd keep Lagares in any case since you know that Cespedes won't play more than 120 games, ever. I think at this point we know that we need a catcher, hopefully a young veteran who can handle the pitching staff better and can mentor Nido when he's ready to Come up. TdA would be my 40-60 game backup next season. Duda or Smith to me is likely a wash. Duda should outhit the kid over the next year or two... Smith likely has the better long term value. I'd talk about the pitching, biut I'm beginning to get a headache just thinking about it, so I'll get back to my coffee now.

Eddie Corona said...

great article... But I wonder if you missed the boat on who we should trade...
Bottom line the idea of the 5 Aces has passed... Thor is not going anywhere... Harvey, Wheeler, Matz will not net you the prospect haul we always thought they would when we would have to decide which one we would Keep...
But if Degrom get hot.. He Might... We should consider trading Degrom... Yeah its tough but the trade that makes a difference is suppose to hurt... Imagine if degrom to the Yankees (preferably not but I am more familiar with them) couldnt we command Clint Frazer (the CF we covet), Sheffeid (future starter) and maybe if we are savy a Mateo (who isnt as high on thier list now that G.Torres is thier SS of the future)

Now I would prefer to send him to the Astros or the Dodgers some other Prospect Rich team...
what do you thing?

Thomas Brennan said...

Good thoughts, Eddie...after this season, almost anyone is tradable.

Robb said...

I would probably start with trading lucas Duda. Probably to the yankees. Its not like theyb are going to offer him arb. You could use flores there and bring dom smith up. If smith isnt ready to handle the position you attempt to resign duda for a year. His market will belimited by the supply in the marketplace regardless. if smith hits trade you can trade flores at the deadline. remember flores in 2 years younger then TJ. Chechini can play second. There really isnt anyone who can play third, but im hoping they slide cabrera over either direction to make room for rosario.

just a thought.

Reese Kaplan said...

@Eddie -- you raise a painful but interesting point. Going forward you are pretty much committed to Harvey, Wheeler and Matz as they each have their own issues that minimize their trade value. Syndergaard is your ace. de Grom in his prime should net quite a haul but doing so sends up flares that the team is officially rebuilding which is something they have been loathe to admit during the history of the franchise. Still, there's nothing else they could trade (other than Cespedes) that would bring back an equivalent bounty.

If (and it's a HUGE if) those four starters are healthy next year, then you find a 5th starter somewhere (if Lugo doesn't turn out to be the answer) and you could theoretically withstand the loss.

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