At his Purple Tailgate fundraiser for his good friend Mo Gaba today, the Orioles’ Trey Mancini briefly discussed some team business. Like his teammate, infielder Jonathan Villar, hitting the waiver wire and possibly being non-tendered by the club.
Last year, Villar hit .274/.339/.453 with 33 doubles, five triples, 24 homers, 40 steals, 111 runs and an OPS of .792. He produced the first season with 20 or more homers and steals by an Oriole since Manny Machado in 2015.
“It’s tough. He had such a good year,” Mancini said. “I think he’s possibly the most underrated player in baseball. I mean that. Whether he is with us or another team, he’ll really help out the team he is on this year. So it’s one of the decisions you have to make when you are going through a rebuild.”
Mancini was asked if he is concerned about possibly losing Villar and if it sends a poor message to the fans.
“I think everybody realizes, (general manager Mike) Elias and Sig (Mejdal, assistant GM), they know what they are doing,” Mancini said. “Look what they did in Houston. I think a lot of people here really trust the process. We have a very knowledgeable fan base here. They know what it takes in a rebuild. It’s tough. Villar is such a good player, such a good guy to have around. He really rallies a team when we need to be rallied. You know, if he is not with us, we’ll definitely miss that. But the fans should know that every decision that is made is for the good of the organization in the long haul. I’d love Villar to still be on our team next year, for sure, though.
Fans braved a cold rain to attend today’s tailgate near Oriole Park and M&T Bank Stadium. Proceeds from the event will help fund Gaba’s medical treatment through the #MoStrong initiative. Gaba, a 13-year-old, Maryland native and Orioles and Ravens superfan, is currently battling cancer for the fourth time. Mancini and Gaba have become good friends, and today was another event in evidence of that.
“I’m honestly so touched by how many people came out,” Mancini said. “Even with the weather. It is such a great turnout and everyone seems to be having a great time. Really happy about that and that we could do this for Mo.
“Whenever you meet him, he just lights up the room and has such a positive attitude. He looks great today, he’s walking around and looks really good. It was good to hang out with him and see that he’s doing well. Just good to help him out.”
This tailgate fundraiser was hosted for several years by former Oriole Adam Jones, who raised money for local Boys and Girls clubs. Mancini would like to step in now and make this an annual event that he is involved with.
“I would like it to (be that),” he said. “Obviously, Adam really taught me well and showed me how to do things the right way in the community. I know the Purple Tailgate has been in existence for a while and we didn’t want to see it go away. And I wanted to put my own little spin on it, because you can’t really fill Adam’s shoes. I’m really happy to do this and keep it going.”
Mancini, who is arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter, said again today that he expects to remain with the team for years and does not expect to be traded. He said there have not yet been any talks between him and the team about a contract extension.