TORONTO — Wilmer Flores cried when he thought the Mets had traded him to the Brewers. Nearly three years later, his sentiment about possibly leaving the only organization for which he has played hasn’t changed.
“I don’t want to go anywhere,” Flores said before the Mets faced the Blue Jays on Wednesday.
But with his recent increased production at the plate, the more likely it has become the Mets — dead in the playoff race — will deal the 26-year-old Flores heading toward the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
Flores entered play with a 10-game hitting streak, during which he was 11-for-38 (.289) with 10 RBIs. His recent presence at first base, even at the expense of Dominic Smith, could suggest the Mets are showcasing Flores for interested teams.
Smith played first base the last two nights against the Blue Jays, but manager Mickey Callaway suggested that was only because the Mets had the option of using Flores as the DH.
“I just think he really got into the flow of things — no pun intended,” Callaway said, alluding to Flores’ “Flo” nickname. “But he is a guy that goes out there and puts together good at-bats and he’s been a traditionally slow starter and he is starting to really come around and we need him in the lineup.”
Flores, who is under club control only through next season, is among several Mets players who could be dealt over the next 3 ½ weeks. It’s a list that also includes Jeurys Familia, Asdrubal Cabrera, Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz, but probably not Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, who are unlikely to be dealt, according to sources.
Flores’ reputation is that of a lefty masher, but his best work this season has come against right-handers. Entering play he had an .899 OPS against righties, but that number dropped to .593 facing lefties.
“I haven’t changed my approach,” Flores said of his struggles against lefties. “It’s just not happening.”
At the trade deadline in 2015, Flores and Wheeler were headed to the Brewers for Carlos Gomez, but the deal was killed when the Mets became concerned about Gomez’s medicals. With reports swirling that he was traded, Flores memorably was caught by TV cameras in tears on the field.
Flores still holds that kind of affinity for the organization that signed him as a 16-year-old in Venezuela in 2007.
“Maybe we won’t make the playoffs this year, but I know in the years coming we are going to have a chance,” Flores said. “You’re going to have a bad year. But in 2014 we had a bad year and then 2015 we had a good year and then 2016 we made the playoffs again. I know this team is going to be there again.”
Callaway wants all his trade-eligible players to embrace the rumors.
“It’s good when you are a player and your name gets brought up, because it means you are performing and that other teams want you,” Callaway said. “It’s good motivation and it should make you feel good and give you confidence that you are performing where other teams want you and go from there. But you definitely need to hit them up every now and again to make sure their head is where it needs to be and go about your business the right way.”
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