With the hot stove now in full-swing, we wonder if either Wilmer Flores or T.J. Rivera can legitimately hold down a vacant New York Mets hole.
This offseason, the New York Mets have outlined the positions they are looking to fill via trade or free agency. The Mets are looking for the following:
- Two bullpen arms
- First base/corner outfielder mix
- Second or third baseman
- Bartolo Colon-type starting pitcher (an inning eater)
If the Mets are able to fill all of those holes, they will easily be playoff contenders once again. The issue surrounds money as, reportedly, they won’t match or exceed their payroll from last season, which was $155 million. If that is true, they will only have about $30 million to spend in the offseason, or use up when acquiring players via trade.
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It is way too early to know who the Mets are going after.
There are conflicting reports every other day, which I believe is simply reporting fodder. Nonetheless, the needs that I outlined earlier are for certain, and there is one in particular that I believe can be filled in-house.
The Mets decided to pick up Asdrubal Cabrera‘s $8.5 million option, a move that I believe was extremely smart, simply because of his versatility. Asdrubal can play shortstop, second base, and proved last season he is a solid third baseman as well. It seems as if Asdrubal will be their opening day third baseman barring something unforeseen happening in the offseason or spring training, which is not a bad thing because he has proven he can still hit.
With Cabrera the likely candidate to be the every day third baseman next season, that leaves second base wide open. That would explain the widespread reports that the Mets are looking at the trade market for top tier second basemen. There are quite a few interesting names out there that would help the Mets out immensely if they were acquired. However, this would require giving something up in return.
The Mets have good pitching depth that could help them land one of these players, but I believe that would be a mistake given the internal options the Mets have. There are two names that come to mind right away when discussing who could take the reigns at second base for the Mets if they do not bring in a new player and they are Wilmer Flores, and T.J. Rivera.
Both Flores and Rivera have been utility players the past few years and when they received consistent playing time they proved their worth. T.J. is a contact guy who will hit .280-.300 and hit well with runners in scoring position, but has little pop in his bat, which does not help you out when Sandy Alderson is the GM.
Wilmer Flores has always been known for his bat and the potential he has. His consistency is definitely his biggest issue, but he hits for power, a decent average, and has improved each season at the big league level.
Neither Flores nor Rivera have been full-time players for the Mets, with the exception of 2015 when Flores was the shortstop for the majority of the season (thank god that’s over) and they have been viewed as utility men at best. Part of the reason for that is simply that they don’t have a position that they are good at defensively, but they both showed last season that second base is the best place for them to play.
I understand the Mets brass looking elsewhere to fill the second base hole, but they should look at these two as legitimate options. The reason being: they can spend their money and use their trade chips in places where the need is bigger. Neither player is an MLB All-Star at this point, but you can’t look at the stats that Wilmer Flores and T.J. Rivera have put up the past two seasons and say they can’t bat sixth or seventh in a good lineup.
There are concerns that Rivera, who had Tommy John surgery in September, will not be ready by opening day, but he feels as if he will be set to go. If Rivera cannot play, the Mets will still have an option to re-sign Jose Reyes to backup Wilmer Flores at second, and if Flores does not get the job done by the time T.J. comes back a platoon situation could be in order.
If both Flores and Rivera were healthy and you had to pick one to be the starter without a spring training competition I think it would have to be Wilmer. Flores’ bat is just exponentially better than Rivera’s. He can also help out the Mets in the power department, which they will need considering they will most likely be without their bombers from last season: Bruce, Granderson and Duda.
I know the Mets are looking to compete again, so filling two of their holes (second and third base) with players from last season is not what fans want to hear. Unfortunately, even though the Mets are in a big market, their owners are unwilling to meet the big market expectations.
With that being said, filling second base with Flores and/or Rivera may be the best move in order for them to use their limited budget to sign a starting pitcher, two relievers, and a first base/corner outfielder.
Time will tell if the Mets will bring in a new face to fill the hole at second base, or if they will give Flores or Rivera a shot. One thing is for sure though, you can never really tell what Sandy Alderson and the Mets will do.