Flexing One’s Financial Might: Waiving Jonathan Villar to the Bronx
The Baltimore Orioles just waived Jonathan Villar, one of their most productive hitters, in a cost cutting move. The Yankees should swoop in and grab this valuable player as soon as they can because he fits this team perfectly.
Jonathan Villar will be playing in his age 29 season in 2020. He’s young, he’s good, he’s fast, and he can play everywhere. Furthermore, he’s a batter that hits for power and is a switch hitter (adding a needed left-handed bat to the lineup). Jonathan Villar, at age 29, should be in the first years of his prime.
When teams cut plus players to save money, the Yankees should deal from their strength, their financial muscle, to acquire these players. Jonathan Villar will be available for nothing more than (minimal) money. He won’t even be a free agent until after the 2021 season.
Let’s look at the ways Villar fits this club:
Defense: since 2014, Jonathan Villar has never had a negative dWAR (according to baseball reference). In that time, he has played a bunch of different positions including: 333 games at second base, 327 games at shortstop, 54 games at third base, and 13 games in the outfield. During the 2019 season, we saw how tremendously valuable D.J. LeMahieu was as a player who could play multiple positions well. That description fits Jonathan Villar exactly. With LeMahieu seemingly slated to be the Yankees every day second baseman in 2020, they could use a versatile player – one who has played multiple position, and done it well. That player is Villar.
Lefty Balance: Jonathan Villar is a switch-hitter which allows him (obviously) to bat left-handed against right handed pitching. As currently constructed, the Yankees are bereft of left-handed bats. Villar could fill that need. Against right-handed pitchers, Villar hit .280/.354/.465 with 15 homers. Those are nice numbers – especially for an infielder. Those numbers would plug very nicely into the Yankees lineup.
Villar has actually put up Didi Gregorius-type numbers the last two years:
2018-19 Didi Gregorius: .256/.313/.473 with 37 doubles, 43 home runs, and 65 walks
2018-19 Jonathan Villar: .268/.333/.424 with 47 doubles, 38 home runs, and 102 walks
Speed: Jonathan Villar also brings speed to the Yankees lineup. Last year, Villar stole 40 bases. The year before, he stole 35. In 2016, he led the league with 62 steals while playing with Milwaukee.
AS a Yankee, Villar would bring an element to their approach that has been missing. Brett Gardner led the team in steals in 2019 with… ten. The last time the Yankees had a player with at least 40 stolen bases was 2011 when Brett Gardner stole 49 bases.
Possible Deal Maker: By acquiring Villar, the Yankees would have a great deal of infield depth. With Gio Urshela (3b), Gleyber Torres (ss), and D.J. LeMahieu (2b) seemingly (at this moment) like the starting infielders, by acquiring Villar, the Yankees would be able to deal Miguel Andujar, Thairo Estrada, or Tyler Wade and still have great infield depth.
By all measures, acquiring Jonathan for nothing more than cash seems like a no-brainer. He’ll be an inexpensive signing, he brings the Yankees necessary balance to the line-up, he is a solid player defensively, and he adds a new dimension of speed to the team.
The Orioles waived goodbye to this player… the Yankees should waive hello and bring him to the Bronx.