After strong 2019, Villar’s time in Baltimore may be ending

It sure looks like Jonathan Villar’s time with the Orioles is coming to an end. With seemingly little interest via trade, Villar was put on waivers yesterday. Any team can claim him, but they would also inherit his arbitration status and potential salary of $10 million or more for 2020.

The Orioles’ decision appears to be that Villar is too pricey for a rebuilding club and they are about to officially cut ties with a player who had his best season last year.

Villar hit .274/.339/.453 with 33 doubles, five triples, 24 homers, 40 steals, 111 runs and an OPS of .792. Villar, who played in all 162 games, hit his 20th home run on Aug. 26 to mark the eighth time in Orioles history that a player has totaled 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases in a season. He produced the first 20/20 season by an Oriole since Manny Machado (35 homers/20 steals) in 2015.

Villar had big years in 2015, when he produced an OPS of .826 for Milwaukee, and 2019. But his combined stats for 2017-2018 produced a line of .251/.310/.379 with a .689 OPS.

Villar-Throws-Gray-sidebar.jpgPer FanGraphs.com, Villar produced 4.0 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) in 2019. But those numbers were minus-0.4 in 2017 and 2.0 in 2018. So two good years and two less so in the last four. A mixed track record and $10 million price tag, along with the approaching non-tender deadline on Monday, seem to have conspired against the Orioles in efforts to trade Villar. In putting him on waivers, they gave every team a shot at him - but only at that price tag.

This all will apparently end with Villar becoming a free agent and likely still cashing in - and maybe even a chance some club or clubs offer a multi-year deal.

But with seasons of 115 and 108 losses the last two years, and while still in the early stages of a rebuild, the Orioles are choosing not to pay that amount for a second baseman. If he were 23 or they were now a team that won 85 games last year, perhaps a very different result would be at hand.

Is it 100 percent that Villar is a goner? Close to that, I would guess, although if Villar clears waivers as expected, the team could make him an offer before he, as expected, elects free agency.

Where does this leave the O’s middle infield? Right now, pending other acquisitions, with Richie Martin at shortstop and Hanser Alberto at second base.

In addition to the Villar news came a report yesterday that the Orioles may be close to trading right-hander Dylan Bundy. Suddenly, it’s not quiet anymore.

Here’s a question: If the Orioles move on from Villar and save that salary, are they still interested in trading Bundy? Does one influence the other, or not at all?

O’s fans were not exactly embracing the Villar news yesterday. They don’t want to see a good player go. Not on a team that doesn’t have enough good players right now.

I hope every reader here has a great Thanksgiving today with family and friends. Among many things I’m thankful for is the fact you are here so often and support what I do. I will always be grateful and humbled by it. Thanks!

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