The Giants are in agreement with veteran infielder Wilmer Flores on a multi-year contract, per a report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan on Tuesday afternoon. According to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, it’s a two-year deal with an option for a third year and will be for more than $6 million:
Infielder Wilmer Flores and the San Francisco Giants are in agreement on a multiyear contract, sources familiar with the deal tell ESPN. Flores, 28, hit .317/.361/.487 with the Diamondbacks last year and could be in line to play second base or a utility role with the Giants.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 4, 2020
Wilmer Flores deal with #SFGiants is for 2 years plus an option. Will be for 6M plus. Nice late deal.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 5, 2020
While he’s not the most significant addition in the world, Flores is the first player to receive a contract from the Giants with more than one guaranteed year since Farhan Zaidi took over as president of baseball operations in November 2018. The 28-year-old, most notable for his multi-position flexibility, his ability to mash lefties, and his Friends obsession, adds to an increasingly deep Giants infield mix that should now actually be pretty competitive come spring training.
While the Giants are bringing back all of the players who ended 2019 as starting infielders — first baseman Brandon Belt, second baseman Mauricio Dubón, shortstop Brandon Crawford, and third baseman Evan Longoria — things could conceivably change at every position. Belt and Crawford, both starters on San Francisco’s 2012 and ‘14 World Series teams, were disappointing enough last season that they’re at risk of losing their jobs this year — particularly Crawford, who had a .654 OPS with no defensive runs saved in 2019. Dubón had been expected to start at second base but has been getting work in center field and could become the everyday starter at shortstop if Crawford ends up getting benched. Meanwhile, Longoria is coming off a bounce-back season where he hit 20 homers with a .762 OPS, and he could be an interesting trade target for a contending team if anyone is willing to take on some or all of the $49.3 million the Giants still owe him.
Flores, who is coming off a 2019 season in which he posted a career-best .317/.361/.487 slash line with nine homers in 285 plate appearances for the Diamondbacks, is probably most likely to slot in at second base initially. Considering that he has a .276/.318/.494 career slash line against left-handed pitchers, he’ll almost certainly be in there every day against lefties. That playing time could come at second with Dubón or Donovan Solano replacing Crawford at short, or it could be at first base with Belt sitting. And he’ll be a nice insurance policy at third if Longoria, who has spent time on the injured list over the last two seasons, gets hurt again or is ultimately traded.
It will be interesting to see who Flores bumps from the Giants’ plans. The 32-year-old Solano had an enormous breakout season in 2019, getting back to the majors for the first time since 2016 and hitting .330/.360/.456 over 228 plate appearances, including an .843 OPS against lefties. He does seem somewhat redundant with Flores, though, and now the Giants could opt to use his remaining minor-league option or just decide to give him an opportunity to play elsewhere. This move also may make the path back to the major-league roster a bit harder for Pablo Sandoval, who returned to the Giants on a minor-league deal last week and isn’t expected to be ready for Opening Day as he completes his recovery from Tommy John surgery. San Francisco also has reigning Gold Glove winner Yolmer Sánchez set to attend camp on a minor-league deal, and his path to their Opening Day roster seems even more improbable than before with Dubón and Flores seemingly ahead of him on the depth chart at second. The Giants almost certainly will carry six infielders on their 26-man roster — and perhaps even seven (or six-and-a-half?) if Dubón shows himself to be a dependable option in center field. Still, that would leave at least one veteran among Solano, Sandoval, and Sánchez out of the mix.