Mets rumors: Wilmer Flores making shift to outfield

The Mets are preparing to move the utility infielder for the 2018 season.
Wilmer Flores. (Photo: Getty Images)

Wilmer Flores has never played a single major-league inning in the outfield since his debut in 2013. But that's not stopping the New York Mets from moving him for the 2018 season. 

 

With spring training underway, Flores will begin taking reps in the outfield in an attempt to get him in the lineup even more. 

 

Last season saw the 26-year-old amass 336 at-bats while playing first, second and third base. He played most of his games (55) at the hot corner. However, the signing of Todd Frazier will eliminate most of his chances to play there, especially with veteran Jose Reyes backing him up. 

 

That doesn't mean Flores won't be seen manning infield positions. Flores could relieve Adrian Gonzalez at first depending on the continuing development of young Dominic Smith, who struggled in his six-week MLB debut last season. 

 

He would also likely step in occasionally for Asdrubal Cabrera at second. 

"I don't see him at just one position," new Mets manager Mickey Callaway told the media on Monday (h/t MLB.com's Anthony DiComo). "This kid can hit — not only can he hit lefties pretty well, he does a pretty good job against righties. And we need his bat in the lineup as often as possible."

The equation for Flores is simple: If the Mets are facing a left-handed pitcher, he is starting. 

Last season saw the fan favorite bat .291 in 44 games against lefties, hitting seven home runs. He was even better in 2016 when he ripped lefties for a .340 average with 11 long balls and 28 RBI in just 49 games.

The Mets outfield depth is suspect to start, but Michael Conforto's recovery from offseason shoulder surgery certainly isn't helping. New York has just four natural outfielders outside of Conforto on their roster in Yoenis Cespedes, Jay Bruce, Brandon Nimmo and Juan Lagares.

Given Flores' lack of speed, it would be expected for him to fill in as a backup to either Cespedes or Bruce in the corners. 

"I don't want to sit on the bench. I want to play," Flores said. "If I have to be in the outfield to get in at least one game, I'll do it. It'll be a challenge. I'm used to playing the infield. But I'm going to put in the work and try to be the best I can be out there."

 

 
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