Eduardo Nunez may be on the New York Mets radar, but Wilmer Flores is just as productive and already under contract.
As we continue to make the slow march towards Spring Training, the New York Mets front office is attempting to put the finishing touches on the organization’s 2018 roster. The top priority right now for this team is adding a starting-caliber infielder to man second or third base.
Per MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal has linked the club to four infielders who seem to be the finalists for the last available infield position.
As @Ken_Rosenthal reported, the Mets are down to four "finalists" for their infield vacancy: Neil Walker, Todd Frazier, Eduardo Nunez and Josh Harrison. And they would really prefer a free agent (i.e. not Harrison).
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) January 29, 2018
In a perfect world, the Mets would acquire two of these four players, ultimately fortifying their infield with added quality and depth.
Unfortunately, the team will likely only be adding one of these players. You can begin by likely eliminating Josh Harrison from contention, for the reason listed above by DiComo. The Mets do not want to trade an asset for Harrison, especially because they do not view his contract as a value at this time.
One of the more popular names that have been linked to the Mets is Eduardo Nunez. However, this seems like a waste because the truth of the matter is that Wilmer Flores can do just as much for the Mets in 2018 as Nunez, and for a fraction of the cost.
The Mets have control of Flores up until the conclusion of the 2019 season, and they recently agreed on a deal through arbitration that will pay the infielder $3.4 million this season.
MLB Trade Rumors projected Nunez to receive a two year, $14 million contract on the open market this winter. Although it is just an estimation, it is important to note that this same outlet perfectly predicted Jay Bruce‘s three years, $39 million deal.
So as we can see, Wilmer will easily cost less than Nunez to man second base for the next two seasons, while providing strikingly similar production on the field.
Here’s a snapshot of how the two utility infielders’ statistics matched up in 2017.
On the surface, their offensive numbers look extremely similar, but Flores might take the cake moving forward. For starters, he did a good job of replicating Nunez’s production, even with 129 fewer plate appearances.
Another positive sign for Flores was that even though his OBP was 34 points lower than Nunez, he walked 17 times compared to Nunez’s 18 in 2017. Flores and Nunez also shared the same number of strikeouts last year (54) as well.
Also, make sure to note the power numbers. Not only is Flores’ slugging percentage number far superior, but his ISO (Isolated Power: SLG – AVG) was .217, which was 69 points better than Nunez’s.
Flores was also able to hit six more long balls than Nunez and would’ve hit roughly 25 home runs overall had he been given the same number of plate appearances.
Now in terms of defense, again we can see little difference between the two infielders, especially at second base where the Mets prefer to find a solution.
At second base, Flores has produced a minus-8 DRS and a 0.3 UZR for his career, while Nunez comes in with a minus-9 DRS, and a minus-5.5 UZR. Neither one will be an asset at the position defensively, but we knew that already.
What all of this should tell us is that the Mets would be better off bringing in Todd Frazier or Neil Walker over the likes of Nunez. Nunez may be faster than Flores, but he hits for less power, plays equally terrible defense, and will be more costly.
His skillset isn’t much different than Flores’, who is already under contract at a bargain price. The addition of Nunez would not bring a new or diverse skill set to the Mets because it is one that they already have in Flores.