Flores agrees to multi-year con­tract

Times-Herald (Vallejo) - - SPORTS - By Kerry Crow­ley

Af­ter 15 months as the pres­i­dent of base­ball op­er­a­tions with the San Fran­cisco Gi­ants, Farhan Zaidi has given out his first mul­ti­year con­tract.

Ac­cord­ing to a report from ESPN, the Gi­ants are in agree­ment on a con­tract with ver­sa­tile in­fielder Wilmer Flores for a con­tract that will last be­yond the 2020 sea­son.

At this point, the specifics of the deal re­main un­clear, but it’s clear the Gi­ants tar­geted Flores for his abil­ity to play all over the in­field and hit left-handed pitch­ing.

Flores, 28, spent the first six sea­sons of his ma­jor league ca­reer with the Mets be­fore tor­ment­ing the Gi­ants as a mem­ber of the Di­a­mond­backs last year. Flores hit a ca­reer-high .317 with a .848 OPS in 89 games and was at his best against left­ies.

In 109 plate ap­pear­ances

against south­paws last year, Flores hit .337 with a .982 OPS.

Flores has played be­tween 135 and 158 games at all four po­si­tions in the in­field in his ca­reer, but he spent most of his time at sec­ond base last sea­son. As a mem­ber of the Gi­ants, Flores will likely re­ceive most of his op­por­tu­ni­ties on the right side of the in­field as he could form a pla­toon with first base­man Bran­don Belt.

Flores’ best ca­reer games have come against the Gi­ants as the eighth-year vet­eran has hit .387 with a 1.078 OPS in 37 games. The Venezuela na­tive has also proven he can hit at Or­a­cle Park as he has a ca­reer .349 av­er­age (15-for-43) with a .512 slug­ging per­cent­age in San Fran­cisco.

The ac­qui­si­tion will cre­ate an in­ter­est­ing dynamic in the Gi­ants in­field as man­ager Gabe Kapler now has new­found flex­i­bil­ity and a va­ri­ety of ways to struc­ture his lineup. De­pend­ing on who the team des­ig­nates for as­sign­ment to clear a 40-man ros­ter spot for Flores, San Fran­cisco will have at least seven and pos­si­bly eight in­field­ers on the ros­ter en­ter­ing spring training.

That group fea­tures ver­sa­tile play­ers such as Mauri­cio Dubón and Dono­van Solano, but it does not in­clude mi­nor league free agents such as Pablo San­doval, Yolmer Sánchez, and Darin Ruf who all re­ceived for­mal in­vi­ta­tions to ma­jor league spring training. It also doesn’t in­clude catch­ers Buster Posey and Aramis Gar­cia and util­ity player Austin Slater, who all have ex­pe­ri­ence at first base, which is the po­si­tion Flores ap­pears to fit best.

It’s un­likely San­doval will be healthy enough to make the Open­ing Day ros­ter af­ter un­der­go­ing Tommy John surgery in Septem­ber, but the Gi­ants ex­pect to have healthy com­pe­ti­tion in the in­field this spring and could ex­plore the idea of creat­ing reg­u­lar pla­toons at mul­ti­ple po­si­tions.

With Flores in the fold, Kapler can now field an all right-handed-hit­ting in­field with Flores at first, Dubón and Solano up the mid­dle and Evan Lon­go­ria at third. If Sánchez or lefthanded-hit­ting waiver wire ac­qui­si­tion Kean Wong makes the Open­ing Day ros­ter, the Gi­ants can also go heavy with left­ies in the in­field as Bran­don Belt can play. First, Sánchez or Wong can play sec­ond, and Craw­ford can play short.

The Gi­ants also ex­pect to have Dubón work in cen­ter field this spring, and Dubón has al­ready posted a short video to so­cial me­dia of his out­field work this off­sea­son.

The ad­di­tion of Flores, who posted a ca­reer-best 0.8 WAR last sea­son, isn’t going to trans­form the Gi­ants’ of­fense dra­mat­i­cally, but it will give the team a chance to find more fa­vor­able matchups on a daily ba­sis.


Wilmer Flores, cen­ter, was tar­geted by the Gi­ants for his abil­ity to play all over the in­field and hit left-handed pitch­ing.

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