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MLB.com’s Justice: D-backs’ Flores signing ‘paid big dividends’

Arizona Diamondbacks pinch-hitter Wilmer Flores follows the flight of his RBI-single off Colorado Rockies relief pitcher Scott Oberg in the eighth inning of a baseball game Sunday, May 5, 2019, in Denver. The Rockies won 8-7. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Wilmer Flores was reinstated from the Injured List on a 109-degree, mid-July day in the Valley. Since then, he has done his best job to keep up with the Arizona heat in the batter’s box.

On Thursday night, Flores contributed three hits (including two doubles) and three RBIs in a winning effort against the Los Angeles Dodgers, his fifth multi-hit game in his last six starts.

Since returning from his foot injury, Flores is batting .400 in 27 games. Over the month of August, he exploded with a 1.309 OPS, and his season batting average rose from .278 to .323. Flores’ hot streak has propelled him to the D-backs’ team lead in average and he is third in OPS, behind All-Star Ketel Marte and catcher Carson Kelly.

MLB.com’s Richard Justice included him on a list of 11 “lowkey moves” that paid off.

He was signed for $3.75 million and a 2020 option in late January and has been a reliable contributor, mostly at second base. He’s hitting .452 with four home runs in 17 games this month.

Since those comments from Justice, Flores added the three hits against Los Angeles to raise his August average to .468.

To give context to how much value the former Met has brought to the desert, his OPS+ is currently 117 while he makes under $4 million.

Former Diamondback Paul Goldschmidt is earning more than three times that amount money this year and nearly six times as much in 2020, yet his OPS+ sits at 107. San Diego Padre Manny Machado signed a $300 million dollar deal this past offseason, but his OPS+ of 108 is still lower than Flores’.

Those players have much larger roles than Flores and have added more value based on WAR, but Flores’ production compared to his contract has proven to be a successful bang-for-your-buck signing by Arizona general manager Mike Hazen.

The D-backs need him to keep going in order to stay in the Wild Card race. They are 4.5 games out of a playoff spot but have a golden opportunity coming up.

They play the Dodgers three more times through Sunday, but then their schedule becomes one of the easiest in baseball.

Arizona will play in eight more series after Los Angeles. Six of them are against teams under .500, and three of its last four are against San Diego and Miami, which have combined to go 110-156. Outfielder David Peralta is injured for the final push, so Flores’ production could keep the Diamondbacks offense afloat if his hitting stays as hot as the Arizona weather.

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