The New York Mets have announced that they have designated infielder Omar Quintanilla for assignment. Quintanilla had been serving as the backup shortstop behind Ruben Tejada. Following a dismal road trip the Mets decided they needed a fresh face on the team to give an offensive boost. Between Tejada and Quintanilla, the shortstop position has supplied only 21 hits for a batting average of .189.
With the Mets still reaffirming their faith in Tejada, Quintanilla was the choice for roster casualty. A team source has said that there will likely be an internal promotion to replace Quintanilla. The most likely candidate is Wilmer Flores. Flores has seen action in one game filling in for Daniel Murphy early this year. Following Murphy’s return, Flores returned to Las Vegas to make the transition to shortstop.
Flores has been a top prospect for several years but has not been able to find a position. The Mets have tried him at third, second and now shortstop. Flores is considered to be a downgrade defensively from both Tejada and Quintanilla. However, what he lacks in defense, he is expected to make up for in offense.
A huge problem that the Mets faced on the road trip was generating run offense. Flores’s arrival might provide the spark that is so desperately needed.
It will be interesting to see how the playing time is split between Flores and Tejada. Tejada had received most of the playing time this season over Quintanilla but has produced less. Tejada is hitting only .183 on the year.
But Flores is not the same player as Quintanilla. He provides, on paper at least, offensive production and power that neither Tejada nor Quintanilla never could. This is also not Flores’s first trip to the big leagues. As a result the adjustment period should be less than it was during his first call up. It’s likely that the Mets will give a real long look at Flores to see if he can play shortstop in the long term.
If he can’t, it is predicted that the market for Stephen Drew will open again next month as the draft pick compensation that would have come with signing him is voided. Alternative solutions could include Wilfredo Tovar or even Eric Campbell.
It remains to be seen if Flores is going to be the long term answer. What is clear however is that this is not the only fix that the Mets need. If nothing else this is a message to both the fans and the players that the Mets want to be winners and that they understand their issues and are putting in efforts to fix them. The effectiveness of this solution is likely to impact other decisions down the road and how the team approaches the inevitable trade deadline.
What is also important to note is that the Mets can bring back Quintanilla if he isn’t signed by any of the other teams. Additionally this is not the first time the Mets have parted ways with Quintanilla midseason.
As for now, it remains to be seen how Flores will handle playing shortstop and if he can run away with the position, as many hope he can. One way or another this could be the shot in the arm this team needs going forward.