Why Wilmer Flores’ Giants contract extension was a ‘no brainer’ for both sides

Why Flores’ deal with Giants was a ‘no brainer’ for both sides originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SAN FRANCISCO — At the MLB trade deadline last month, Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi made it clear that there were no untouchables in the organization, but the Giants certainly had their preferences.

Zaidi traded several veterans, including Darin Ruf and Curt Casali, but he viewed Wilmer Flores as instrumental to the organization’s hopes of trying to turn things around over the final two months, and he also hoped that Flores would stick around long term. The Giants have not gotten back into the playoff race, but on Monday they guaranteed that Flores will be part of future pushes.

A free agent at the end of the season, Flores passed up the open market by signing a two-year, $13 million contract with a mutual option for 2025. If Flores plays out the full contract, he will be a Giant for six seasons. He said making that commitment in-season was “a no-brainer.”

“I wanted to come back here,” Flores said. “I just love everyone here and playing at this stadium in San Francisco makes me feel good. You can’t buy that.”

Flores will, however, be able to buy quite a bit with this next contract. It is similar to the two-plus-one that he signed before the 2020 season, except for about double the price. The Giants made an easy decision to pick up the club option for 2022, but both sides will have the choice in 2025. Flores holds a $3.5 million option for the third year and the Giants hold a $8.5 million option, a creative bit of accounting that gives both sides some leverage.

Flores is now the only position player under team control beyond next season and it’s not hard to see why the Giants made the 31-year-old a priority. Flores leads them in appearances, runs and RBI and his 18th homer on Sunday night tied a career-high. For a team that values ​​versatility above almost everything else, Flores’ ability to play first, second and third has been a godsend.

“Wilmer’s ability to move around makes him a more valuable piece of our roster any way you slice it,” Kapler said.

Flores is one of Kapler’s favorite players, and on Monday, Kapler said “nobody prepares better than Wilmer” and it’s “incredibly gratifying” to the staff to see Flores rewarded.

That leadership will be counted on in future years as the Giants fold in Spanish-speaking prospects like Marco Luciano and Luis Matos. Flores has been a mentor for breakout infielder Thairo Estrada, and both Kapler and Zaidi noted a moment in Sunday’s game when Flores joined a ninth-inning mound meeting between Joey Bart and Camilo Doval, offering his translation skills but also a calming presence.

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Those two young players are part of the future core and the Giants will add to it this offseason, but they got their first piece of business out of the way on Monday. Flores will fill a gap somewhere in 2023 no matter how the offseason shakes out, and Zaidi was happy with the decision he made five weeks ago. He said five or six teams reached out about Flores at the deadline, all contenders, but the Giants did not find an appealing deal. On Monday, they did.

“He’s been a really popular guy in the clubhouse, he’s been popular with our fans, he’s been popular with us as a front office because of his versatility and production and ability to fit a number of different roles,” Zaidi said. “It has been a nice fit and we expected it would continue to be a nice fit even as this team evolved going forward.”

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