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Report: Giants sign Giants killer Wilmer Flores to a multi-year deal

Just before Spring Training begins, the Giants add a quality depth piece in this 28-year old utility infielder.

Arizona Diamondbacks v New York Mets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Thanks to Jeff Passan, we know the Giants have signed utilityman Wilmer Flores to “a multiyear contract”. Let’s get this out of the way right up front: Wilmer Flores is good! The Giants signed a good player.

He’s been an above average hitter over the last four seasons by OPS+: 111, 109, 105, 118, and last year, his on base percentage (.361) jumped fifty points above his career average. That was just in 89 games, too. Eight of them came against the Giants, and that’s where it gets interesting.

Against the Giants, Flores hit .583/.615/1.083 (1.699 OPS) in 26 plate appearances. Three of his nine home runs came against them, too. For his career, he has hit the Giants better than any other team: .387/.439/.639 (1.078) in 132 plate appearances (37 games). If you set the minimum number of plate appearances against an opponent to 30, the Giants are the only team he has a .900+ OPS against. Against the Oriole, he has an .836 OPS in exactly 30 PA. Against no other team has he even cracked .800.

So! The Giants definitely signed a Giants Killer and we have to assume that the front office — a collection of the smartest people to have ever lived — are smart enough to know that teams who sign their personal slayer don’t turn around and reap the rewards of that former slaying. They just become the player they are when he doesn’t get to face the very team. They must assume that they can use their collective wisdom and 70 coaches to seed what’s worked for Flores against the Giants into his normal game so that he can be just as successful against any other team.

Or not and this is all about just grabbing one of the last decent bats on the market to boost what projects tell them will be a really, really, distressingly poor offense. Which brings me back to the main point, in spite of his splits against the Giants: Wilmer Flores is a good player.

He played second base and first base for the Diamondbacks last year, but with his original team, the Mets, he also played third base and shortstop. He is just about a tick below average at all these positions, but his consistent not-terribleness means he’s a versatile infielder. The next time the Giants have to face Clayton Kershaw or, uh... Madison Bumgarner... they’ll be able to throw a lot of capable righties into the lineup.

No, Alex! Not like that!

Could also put Posey at first, and have a toss-up of Solano and Flores on the middle infield with Dubon in center field (if that really is the ultimate goal) and Longoria at third, or just give Belt more reps in left field. Or don’t mess with Brandon Belt.

Now, we don’t know the terms of the deal, but let’s just assume that multiyear equals two. Last year, the Diamondbacks signed him to a 1-year $4.25 million deal with a $6 million option for this season, which they obviously declined. Flores has been about a 1-win player for his career and he’s projected to be about that in 2020. The new market system has a set a free agent price of about $3 million for a 1-win player. Let’s assume, then, that Flores got, maybe two years and $7 million with some incentives.

5PM UPDATE: Jon Heyman has tweeted the terms of the deal:

I only mention this because this is the first multiyear deal of Farhan Zaidi’s tenure and it could suggest just how much the Giants have salary capped themselves for 2020. They were at about $155 million this morning (that includes the $15 million in player benefits teams have to pay out). We’ll see if this move plus the rest of the team reveals if they capped themselves at $170 or $175 million, or if they even capped themselves at all. A self-imposed limitation could suggest that we won’t see anymore Zack Cozart’s salary for a top prospect-type this year.

And just to reinforce my point about Wilmer Flores being a good player: being a “1-win” player is not a death sentence. An “average” major league player is a “2-win” guy. There is no shame in being sub-average. It still means he’s one of the best baseball players in the world, but just one that’s right between “replacement-level” and “average.” Those guys have value, and that’s been the whole point of Farhan Zaidi’s quest to add depth.

Batted ball-wise, he has some pop in his bat, but below average (30.8% Hard Hit rate in 2019 compared to 34.5% for MLB); but he also doesn’t strike out much (10.9% in 2019). He also, uh, doesn’t walk much (5.3% BB rate). Think of him as the better and infield version of Kevin Pillar.

If you skipped out on most of last season (good call!) but you still know you’ve heard that name before, then you’re probably thinking of the time when Wilmer Flores played for the Mets and started crying on the field when he thought he’d been traded:

We can assume he will not shed a tear for the Giants’ 15th straight loss or whatever hell we’re in for, but adding a versatile 28-year old with a 4-year track record of above average success will certainly endear him to us very quickly.