WILMER FLORES, INFIELD
The Kansas City Royals love versatility and Wilmer Flores has it. He’s played every infield position over seven big league seasons, logging 165 games at second base, 162 at shortstop, 155 at first and 143 at third. His bat is respectable, as he hit .317 in 89 games for Arizona in 2019 and owns a career .268/.310/.432 slash. He’s not an everyday player but averages a handy 96+ games per season.
Flores’ versatility could spark talk of trading Merrifield for prospects, but it’s hard to believe that trading the valuable and popular star and replacing him with a utility infielder would be among Royals owner-in-waiting John Sherman‘s first moves. Without trading Merrifield, Flores could spell Merrifield and Nicky Lopez at second, Adalberto Mondesi and Lopez at short, and whoever the Royals eventually choose to play first and third.
A bit of uncertainty surrounds Flores, however. The Diamondbacks hold a 2020 club option on him for $6 million but can buy him out for $500,000. It’s a wait-and-see situation.
Pursue Flores or move on? The Flores question is moot if the Diamondbacks exercise their option; if they don’t, the Royals should pursue him. His versatility could come in handy, especially if Mondesi remains injury-prone, and he won’t trigger a prolonged bidding war or command the type of mega-salary the Royals rarely pay.
And major league rosters expand to 26 players in 2020. The 26th man is tailor-made for Flores.