The Mets announced to reporters yesterday that they’ve shut down infielder Wilmer Flores for the remainder of the season after he was diagnosed with early onset arthritis in both knees (links via Newsday’s Anthony Rieber and MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo). It’s a curious diagnosis for a player who has yet to celebrate his 28th birthday, though Flores suggested that he doesn’t believe the issue will have a significant impact on his immediate future. For the time being, he received an injection in each knee with the hope that it’ll curtail the symptoms he’s been feeling.
Asked about how the dual knee issues could impact Flores’ future with the team, manager Mickey Callaway was noncommittal. “I think that really depends on what the rest of our team looks like,” said Callaway. “He can definitely obviously fill in, and start, and swing the bat well and play good enough defense. … We’ll just have to see what the makeup of our team looks like next year.” Flores is arbitration-eligible for the final time this winter and hit .267/.319/.417 in 429 plate appearances.
More on the Mets…
- Dominic Smith’s future with the Mets is up in the air after a lost season, writes Mike Puma of the New York Post. The former first-rounder was recently viewed as the organization’s first baseman of the future, but that distinction could very belong to rising slugger Peter Alonso, who had a huge season between Double-A and Triple-A. The Mets have tried Smith in left field, though with Michael Conforto, Jay Bruce, Brandon Nimmo, Yoenis Cespedes (once he recovers from surgery on both heels) and others in the mix, his chances there could be slim as well. Smith chats with Puma about some of his 2018 struggles and his own cognizance of the crowded path between him and regular at-bats with the Mets, expressing confidence in his abilities and acknowledging that all he can do is force the team’s hand with a big showing next spring (if he’s not traded this offseason).
- The Mets formally shut Zack Wheeler down for the remainder of the season after a 101-inning increase in his workload from the 2017 season, Puma writes ina a separate column. The 28-year-old enjoyed an enormous rebound season after missing 2015-16 due to injury and pitching on a limited workload last season, as he rode a sensational second half to a 3.31 ERA with 8.8 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, 0.69 HR/9 and a 44.2 percent ground-ball rate on the season overall. Wheeler tossed a total of 182 1/3 innings, and it seems likely that he’ll pitch without any sort of innings limitation next season. Both manager Mickey Callaway and pitching coach Dave Eiland spoke with Puma about the strides Wheeler made in 2018, with Eiland in particular talking about how the dugout staff lobbied against trading the right-hander with the belief that the 2019 season could have a championship-caliber rotation. That’s been the hope in Queens for years, of course, but next year’s top four of Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Wheeler and Steven Matz nonetheless looks quite promising if the quartet can finally stay healthy.