Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer
This past weekend, I talked with someone in baseball who has been watching Wilmer Flores play shortstop for Triple-A Las Vegas.
“He can make the routine play, his range is better than expected, but he needs to improve his awareness around the infield,” he told me.
For instance, if Flores gets a high chopper and a runner is advancing, the expert explained, he still shows a bit of panic or confusion on the play.
“It’s fine for now, but he’ll need to be quicker than that in the big-leagues, especially at shortstop,” he concluded.
Flores is batting just .176 with no extra base hits and five strike outs in eight games.
There is no way to know this for fact, but my initial thought here is that Flores may be struggling to hit, while working hard and spending time learning shortstop. Or, it’s just a rough start, bad luck, etc. It happens. In either case, though, it’s never wise to bring a kid learning a new position to the big leagues in the middle of a slump, no matter how justified. Team insiders seemed to be indicating all March that Flores would get at least a month in Triple-A to get comfortable, keep learning and show what he’s capable of doing for the Mets.
Meanwhile, Ruben Tejada is batting .194 in 40 big-league plate appearances, while striking 25 percent of his at bats.
Scott Boras seemed to be stalking the Mets all weekend in Los Angeles. He was literally pacing around the seats behind home plate. Friday, he was seen talking to Sandy Alderson, which must have a been a fun conversation to listen in on. Boras represents free-agent SS Stephen Drew and 1B Kendrys Morales, both of whom are still free agents, despite the season being two weeks old.
Drew can’t be made a Qualifying Offer at the end of this season, because the season started. This is appealing, because a one-year deal can be just a one-and-done deal and he doesn’t have to worry about the QO stigma (and draft pick compensation) that plagued him the last six months. The thing is, I hear he’s still looking for at least an option year, or anything that can keep him from being a free agent again this winter. Also, Drew will still cost your top draft pick. In Alderson’s case, he’d need to give up his third-round pick to sign Drew. This will not be the case June 8, when the draft is over.
My hunch is Boras will continue to contact Alderson, as well as the Tigers and others, who continue to lay low and monitor internal options. Eventually, Drew will sign. I bet Boras gets a team to overpay in May, in advance of the draft and before the summer trade market perks up. Remember, the D-Backs and Mariners still have shortstops to move. Will it be the Mets that sign Drew? I don’t know. But, if Flores stays green, and Tejada stays quiet, I think anything is possible…