A surreal night at Citi Field ended with Wilmer Flores’s eyes still puffy from wiping away tears, but also still a member of the Mets.
Midway through the Mets’ 7-3 loss to the San Diego Padres on Wednesday, reports surfaced that the club had traded Flores and Zack Wheeler to the Milwaukee Brewers for outfielder Carlos Gomez. The terms of the deal were then quickly posted online by major news organizations, including The New York Times, which confirmed the trade with a high-ranking baseball executive with direct knowledge of the talks between the two teams.
Except, it turned out, that there was no deal.
“There is no trade,” General Manager Sandy Alderson told reporters late Wednesday night after the Mets’ game had ened.
“Unfortunately social media, etc., got ahead of the facts, and it may have had an adverse effect on one of the players rumored to be involved,” Alderson said. “It was an unfortunate situation, it was something that I’ve addressed personally with the player involved. It’s one of those things that happens today with modern communications, etc. It’s an unfortunate situation, but whatever has been speculated over the course of the evening has not and will not transpire.”
So Flores will remain a Met, at least for now, a shortstop in progress who has displayed impressive power this season to go with an uncertain glove. And Wheeler will remain a recuperating member of the Mets’ future pitching rotation as he continues to recover from Tommy John surgery. Gomez, meanwhile, will continue to play center field for the Brewers, unless he becomes part of another deal before Friday’s trade deadline.
And what took place on Wednesday night will linger as one of the more bizarre moments of the 2015 baseball season.
The first sign that something was askew came as word of what seemed to be a deal spread from the press box to the fans on their cellphones and even the Mets’ dugout. Ordinarily, when a deal has been completed any players involved are pulled from the game so as to avoid any last-minute injury that would upend the trade. And yet, in this instance, Flores continued to stay on the field.
In the bottom of the seventh, when Flores came to the plate, the crowd gave him a standing ovation and began syllabically chanting his name in what was cleary a salute to a player they believed was playing with the Mets for the last time.
In the top of the eighth, when Flores valiantly jogged out to his position at shortstop, the television cameras that zoomed in on him showed he was crying. He, too, was convinced that he had been traded away by the only major league team he has ever known, the one that signed him as a teenager out of Venezuela in 2007.
But by game’s end, he realized he was still a Met after all.
“During the game I heard about I was getting traded and I got emotional and when I came in they told me there was no trade,” Flores told reporters after the most unusual game of his still-young career. “I was sad. Being a Met forever, all my teammates are here. It’s why I get emotional.”
Flores said his plan on Thursday was to come to the clubhouse and put on his Mets uniform and prepare to play. Alderson reiterated that no trade involving Flores, Wheeler and Gomez would happen before Friday’s deadline.
“It was a little bizarre from like Inning 3 to Inning 8,” said Alderson, who declined to detail how the trade with the Brewers fell apart.
Flores was finally taken out in the ninth inning, at which point David Wright and other players consoled him.
“They gave me a hug and they told me that it’s nothing bad, it’s for a good reason, it’s good,” Flores said. “There’s no trade.”
Moments after Ruben Tejada pinch-hit for Flores and made the final out, grounding into a double play, Collins furiously denied reports of a deal to reporters, while attacking social media.
“This kid comes off the field tonight, he hears he’s traded, he’s upset by it and I don’t know anything about it. So I went down and said: ‘Listen, I don’t know what’s going on, but we got a game to play. Let’s go play baseball.’ ”
Alderson said he had not spoken to Wheeler immediately after the game. But the saga may not be done yet. When asked if the Mets still would pursue a bat before the trade deadline, Alderson said, “It’s not Friday yet.”