CINCINNATI, OH: Jesus Flores #26 of the Washington Nationals drives in a run with a sacrifice fly in the second inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Remember Jesus Flores? I don't mean that you recall that there's a catcher named Jesus Flores who backs up Wilson Ramos for the Nationals. No, I'm talking about when he was giving us something to be excited about, before injuries and the acquisition and emergence of Ramos made it tougher for Flores to become what we had envisioned.
In his short 2009 stint, Flores hit .301/.371/.505, with four homers in 106 plate appearances. Now, no one expected him to replicate that exactly -- his minor-league numbers had their moments, but weren't that good, by any means. But the chance to see how much of that he could approximate in 2010 never came, as he missed the entire season and then logged just 91 plate appearances as a backup in 2011. His 2012 season has started off just as poorly, with the backstop amassing an OPS+ of just 40.
The thing is, with Wilson Ramos out for the year and Sandy Leon injured in his very first game in the majors, it's basically up to Flores to catch the majority of the games unless the Nationals go out to acquire someone else, or decide to give the 33-year-old Carlos Maldonado all the playing time. In NL-only leagues, Flores doesn't need to approach a 900 OPS to have value. Playing everyday might help him get out of the rut he's been in since his return from labrum surgery, and the further he gets from that procedure, the better he might feel as well.
That's just speculation, of course, but catching is thin enough that taking a risk on Flores hitting might end up being worth it. At this point, if you've already lost Ramos in a 12- or 14-team NL-only setup, you're close to just punting catcher altogether. But give Flores a shot, and hope he's even half the player he was in 2009, or the player who slugged .422 during his six seasons in the minors. He's been bad enough that owners might not be jumping on him, so even if he's a stash, grab him while you can just in case.
Let me make this clear, though: in mixed leagues, you don't want anything to do with Flores. The chances of him becoming something productive again aren't that great, and it's only the desperation of a dual-catcher, NL-only existence that makes him have even the iota of appeal that he does.