Jonathan Villar was placed on outright waivers yesterday and he’s still on them. No team has claimed him.
No team seems willing to pay whatever he’s going to make in arbitration, a salary that’s expected to reach $10 million and maybe more.
What’s left to say about the situation?
The Orioles are trying hard to trade him, as I’ve reported. They were in an aggressive mode at the July deadline, with the Cubs one of the teams engaged in talks, but no one took the bait.
Executive vice president/ general manager Mike Elias isn’t making a non-tender or waiver claim his first choices among the potential outcomes. He wants to strike a deal and get a player or two in return, probably to help stock rosters at the lower levels, whether the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League or Gulf Coast League, or Single-A.
Failing to do so is leading to a parting with zero compensation beyond salary relief. Villar can become a free agent by Monday’s 8 p.m. deadline to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players.
The Orioles sought lower-level prospects at the July deadline, as evidenced by the Andrew Cashner trade with the Red Sox, who handed over two Dominican Summer League players.
They had scouts spread out in the Gulf Coast League, but nothing else materialized.
Villar had a terrific second half and he is at least serviceable in the middle infield, but there’s still no interest as the Orioles attempt to move him. The salary could be a detriment, but there also are concerns among some contenders about his inconsistency and reckless nature on the base paths.
Poor decisions weigh more heavily on a team with championship aspirations, where one mistake can be a killer.
Fans erupted on Twitter after the news broke that Villar had been placed on waivers. I get it. A player with 33 doubles, 24 home runs, 40 steals and a 4.0 WAR who also slashed .274/.339/.453 and appeared in 162 games. Who hit for the cycle and brought entertainment value. One of the very few bright spots.
A 100-watt bulb in a 25-watt box.
There’s always another side, of course. Whether or not you agree with it or approve of it.
The Orioles won’t contend in 2020, which is Villar’s final season under team control. They’re keeping the payroll down and don’t want to hand out $10 million or more, especially to a player who isn’t part of the rebuild.
They’re going to lose with or without him. His departure won’t shift the balance of power in the American League East.
They could, at least in theory, use the savings on raises for other arbitration-eligible players and to make more hires in various departments. Redirect the funds. But we won’t know if that happens until later.
This is a tough sell for a fan base that’s forced to swallow 100-loss seasons until the new regime completes its teardown and rebuild. A complete redesign of the organization. But unpopular moves are in the blueprint, whether it’s firing long-time scouts and instructors or cutting ties with one of the best players on the team.
A player who put the Orioles on the winning side of the Jonathan Schoop trade with the Brewers.
Remember that you were warned about it being ugly before it gets better.
If wins don’t matter right now, neither do style points.
The Orioles could attempt to sign Villar to a deal that’s more in their comfort zone if he’s unclaimed, giving them a window between 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Monday, but he’s likely to find a better offer on the open market. He’ll have to settle for less annually than the MLBTradeRumors.com projection of $10.4 million, but there could be a multi-year deal in his future.
Elias will need to address a middle infield that also could lose Richie Martin if he’s optioned to Triple-A Norfolk. Elias already is seeking a veteran shortstop with plus-skills in the field.
The farm system isn’t ready to offer assistance.