One of the numerous needs the Mets need to fill before they take the field on Opening Day in April is the catcher’s position. Rumors have it that Sandy Alderson would like to look around for some other options before he considers attempting to retain Kelly Shoppach, who the team traded away Pedro Beato for last August. I heard yesterday that there is some interest in White Sox backstop, Tyler Flowers. Not only had I not heard his name before, but after looking at his .213/.296/.413 line for 2012, I really thought to myself, “Who the heck is this guy, and why would they be interested in him?” So, I decided to do some digging to find out why the Mets could have this guy on their radar.
The 26-year-old catcher was drafted in the 33rd round of the first-year draft by the Atlanta Braves back in 2005, and made his MLB debut as a September call-up for the White Sox on September 3rd, 2009. As of right now, his Big League stats don’t look very impressive (.205/.307/.388 career line), but his playing time has been spotty at best with the presence of A.J. Pierzynski, especially since the veteran put together career highs with 27 homers and 77 RBI in 2012.
After appearing in only 18 games between the 2009 and 2010 seasons, Flowers started to get some more opportunities with the Sox in 2011, as he hit 5 homers and drove in 16 runs in 110 at-bats, while slugging 7 longballs and driving in 13 in 138 at-bats this season. There seemed to be some panic at first regarding the potential departure of Pierzynski, but if he does, the front office and coaching staff seem confident in giving Flowers a more prominent role on the team in 2013.
Why is that, you ask? Well, when he’s given the opportunity to start, the man can hit. In parts of six seasons in the minor leagues, Flowers owns a career line of .275/.391/.484, and has played in 100+ games in four of those years. Outside of his first professional season in Rookie Ball (5 HR in 129 ABs), he’s hit double-digits in the home run department where ever he’s played, and has hit 20+ doubles four times. At the young age of 26, his legs are a lot fresher than Pierzynski’s, who is unlikely to repeat his 2012 performance heading into his age-36 season. So, if A.J. walks out of Chi-town for another destination, the White Sox feel they’ll be OK. If they’re able to retain their incumbent catcher at a reasonable price, that could make Flowers expendable.
With Josh Thole and Anthony Recker the only two catchers currently on the Mets’ 40-man roster, it looks as if Flowers would fit in nicely with the Amazins and give them exactly what they need; a right-handed hitter with some pop. Although he isn’t the veteran presence that Alderson is said to desire, if the Mets could land Flowers, I doubt he would be upset. The only catch is that as he’s earned more playing time in the Majors and is starting to show some promise, his stock is rising in the eyes of White Sox brass, which could drive up his asking price, if they even want to consider dealing him in the first place.
So this “interest” that we heard on MLB Trade Rumors makes sense to me; he’s a young and inexpensive player that would be under team control until 2018, and has potential to turn into a solid Major League hitter. I would certainly prefer someone like that over Kelly Shoppach or Miguel Olivo, where you know their best days are behind them. We’ll see if this plays out at all, but at least we now know who Tyler Flowers is.