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Could Wilmer Flores be an Option for the Chicago Cubs at First Base?

Should the Chicago Cubs choose to go with a short-term solution at first base, Wilmer Flores could present a solid stopgap solution at the position.

With the 2022 MLB season in the rearview, one of the clear holes that emerged on the roster was first base. The revolving door that was Frank Schwindel, Alfonso Rivas, and P.J. Higgins provided little value offensively, and with Jed Hoyer proclaiming the need to "aggressively fill" the team's gaps this offseason, first base is likely to be near the top of the list. The Chicago Cubs have already been linked to both Anthony Rizzo and Jose Abreu.

But where could the team turn should they be unsuccessful in landing on of the big ticket free agents? The answer could come internally with Matt Mervis, but perhaps another veteran in San Francisco Giants utility-man Wilmer Flores might entice Chicago. 

Flores is set to hit free agency after three seasons in the bay area. The 31-year-old can play multiple positions but his best is first base. Flores logged just over 300 innings at first base in 2022, putting up zero defensive runs saved and one out above average, both of which are his best marks at any position and make him a league-average fielder.

The righty is also a perennially average-to-above-average bat, finishing with a wRC+ of 100 or better in his previous seven seasons, four of which have been over the 110 mark. The Venezuela native is a pesky hitter for opposing pitches, striking out in just 13.7% of his career plate appearances. The former international free agent signing has also walked in over 9% of his plate appearances.

While he won't blow anyone away with rawpower, Flores does have a decent amount of pop, consistently getting to the upper teens in home runs and also finishing with an ISO in the .150-.200 range. 

A solid offensive player with average defense at first base, Flores wouldn't be the flashiest signing by any stretch. But the 31-year-old isn't going to break the bank and wouldn't preclude the Cubs from going after any high-end free agents this winter. The righty could be a good stopgap option for Chicago in 2023 and would provide a stable presence both on the field and in the lineup.

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