The offseason will be here before you know it, and at that point, the SF Giants front office will begin to prioritize needs that they will want to address in the winter. One pending free agent that they should absolutely bring back is infielder Wilmer Flores.
One player the SF Giants need to bring back in 2023
I have been saying that the Giants need to get younger and more athletic, but it is easy to forget that Flores is only 31-year-old. He signed a three-year, $9 million (including a team option for 2022) pact prior to the 2020 season and that has quietly been one of the better moves that the front office has made.
Of course, it is easy to write about how important Flores has been to the Giants. After all, he played a huge role in helping San Francisco string together an 8-7 victory against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday to complete the sweep. He recorded three hits in four at-bats with one walk and it felt like he was in the middle of every rally.
That has been par for the course since the right-handed bat first put on a Giants uniform. In three seasons, he has slashed .260/.331/.460 (116 OPS+) with an 8.8 percent walk rate against a 14.8 percent strikeout rate.
The Giants have been known for grinding out at-bats and Flores has been the model for that as he sees 4.02 pitchers per plate appearance.
The right-handed bat has been even better in 2022 as he has registered a .253/.337/.442 line (117 OPS+) with 16 home runs, 57 RBI, and 57 runs in 416 plate appearances. This includes a 9.6 percent walk rate against a 15.9 percent strikeout rate.
Similar to new teammate J.D. Davis, Flores has not demonstrated extreme platoon splits in his 10-year career. He has posted a solid .818 OPS against lefties and a .731 OPS against right-handed pitching. He is a middle-of-the-order hitter against southpaws while remaining playable against same-sided pitchers.
The fanbase appears to be frustrated with the coaching staff's penchant for platooning and the good news is that Flores is not a platoon hitter. Plus, he has been steady and consistent during his time with the Giants, and that has been especially true in 2022 as the season has been a roller coaster at times.
In the field, Flores is probably best suited as a first baseman or a designated hitter, but he has seen a lot of time at second base and third base due to injuries. He is capable, but the Giants will want to prioritize defense at those positions in the offseason.
On a different note, the 31-year-old appears to have become a quiet leader with Thairo Estrada being one player who looks up to the veteran infielder. When the Willie Mac award is handed out next month, Flores should be one of the top vote-getters.
The Giants like Flores a lot and he should be someone that they can retain on a modest deal. They will have a lot of holes to fill in the offseason, but keeping Flores in San Francisco should be one of their top priorities.