So the Baltimore Orioles are doing wild and crazy things, but that may just work out in the Cincinnati Reds favor. Roch Kubatko of MASN is reporting that the Orioles have played shortstop/second baseman Jonathan Villar on waivers.

Jonathan Villar played in every single game for the Orioles in 2019. He hit .274/.339/.453 with 33 doubles, five triples, and 24 home runs. He also stole 40 bases in 49 attempts. All of that came while playing up the middle, splitting time at both second base and shortstop.

The Cincinnati Reds are in the market for a second baseman. And a shortstop. And the Baltimore Orioles just put one on the market without leaving themselves much bargaining power. Clearly there are going to be plenty of teams calling about a 4 WAR middle infielder, so the trade market will probably be there – but given that he’s on waivers, and only has one year remaining before free agency, teams are going to use that against what Baltimore is requesting in return.

MLB Trade Rumors projects that Jonathan Villar is due $10.4M in arbitration for the 2020 season. While that whole WAR/$ thing isn’t perfect, Fangraphs says he was worth $31.7M in 2019. He’s going to be worth whatever arbitration figure he does wind up getting – assuming things get that far and he and whatever team he winds up on can’t agree on a deal prior to the arbitration hearing.

The good side of things with Jonathan Villar is that he’s got power and he’s got speed. And he’s bringing those things at a position that historically only brings one of those things. On the flip side of things, if you want to nitpick – he doesn’t make a lot of contact. His strikeout rate in 2019 improved from where it had been the previous three seasons, but was still at 24.6%. As long as you are drawing walks and hitting for some power, you can get away with that and still have a solid average an on-base percentage. And that’s what Villar does. His defense up the middle doesn’t stand out, but he’s fully capable of handling both shortstop of second base without being a detriment, too.

With only one shortstop on the free agent market, Didi Gregorius, the Reds should run, sprint, whatever they have to do, to get on the phone with the Baltimore Orioles. This pick up would go a long way towards solving their biggest need for 2020 – a starting caliber, above-average hitting shortstop.

Photo of Jonathan Villan by Keith Allison and was edited . The license can be found here.

46 Responses

  1. Datdudejs

    So if claimed we would have to work out a trade correct?

    • Colt Holt

      Nope. That would be the case if he were DFA’d, but MLBTR says he was placed on waivers. When claiming on waivers, you give up nothing, but are on the hook for the remainder of the contract. In this case, you just have the opportunity to tender a contract through arbitration.

    • Michael E

      I think they can pull back the waiver, so the Reds might have to trade for him if they got the claim. That is UNLESS Baltimore just said, good, take him, which is possible.

  2. LB

    Just spitballing here, but didn’t a report come out a few weeks ago that the Orioles were looking for a veteran stopgap SS?

    Might they have any interest in Freddy Galvis? Would defeat half of the money-saving purpose for them, but would give them a true SS and save $5M in the process

    • Dawson

      I like that. And still go after Gregorious. Villar can slide over to 2B if they get Gregorious too. That would make for a great offensive/defensive middle infield.

  3. Michael Smith

    I thought this must be a joke. Why on gods green earth would you not work out a trade before releasing a guy with this talent.

    • Doug Gray

      Apparently they’ve been trying according to the tweet.

      • Michael Smith

        I get that. I just cant imagine that they had no offers of any real value.

  4. Tom Mitsoff

    So just for the sake of discussion, are a .329 OBP and 97 OPS+ what the Reds are looking for? On the side of arguing to claim him, he would be a good trade chip if the Reds do sign Gregorius or trade for one of the numerous shortstops who has been talked about as trade possibilities. Villar had a 4.0 WAR this season, but his career WAR in a little over five full seasons is 12.1.

    • BK

      Unless we explore a trade, the main alternative is Didi Gregorius, who sports a career .313 OBP and a career 99 OPS+. Gregorius will also cost more. Moreover, Gregorius is coming off a .276 OBP, 87 OPS+ season compared to Villar’s .339 OBP, 109 OPS+ season. Unless we have a trade in the works for a Lindor/Seager type player, I think Villar is our best option for SS and I would happily take him over Gregorius.

    • Steve Schoenbaechler

      Didi’s and Villar’s offensive numbers are similar. Villar would probably be cheaper.

      If Villar would be good trade bait, why weren’t the Orioles satisfied enough to keep him? If he’s good trade bait, other teams are probably going after him now. Good players are trade bait. Why would we trade off a good player at a position that we need? For trading, at best, he would be one of the secondary players in a trade.

      Fact is, if the player is good already, the teams they are on probably aren’t going to give them up, unless it’s something like the Dodgers who have someone ready to step in. But, then, we would have to give a lot for that player.

      I see Villar cheaper than Didi. So, the only questions I see the Reds making is “is Villar being cheaper worth it” and “Can Didi come all the way back from his injury”.

  5. LB

    Well I think an important note is that they appear to have tried their hardest to trade him thus far but no one wanted him.

    After all, it is a fairly hefty price tag for an unreliable profile…that said, I’d take the chance

  6. Dawson

    Definitely agree with you Doug. This is a must. Great opportunity.

    • JB

      You also have to realize that the Orioles might have been asking for a top 10 prospect for Villar. Maybe their trade demands were unrealistic. I’ll take Villar and his 339 obp right now and slide him into 2nd. 33 doubles ,24 Homer’s and 40 steals also. Peraza isnt going to give them that or Senzel. Reds need offense bad. And at 10 mil they can use more money elsewhere.

  7. Tom Mitsoff

    Joe Trezza, the Orioles beat writer for their website, is reporting on Twitter that Villar was placed on outright waivers. That means that if nobody claims him by Monday, he will become a free agent. Seems like with that in mind, and if the Reds don’t have to trade anyone to get him, that’s a good idea to claim a 4.0 WAR guy for $10 million for one year.

    • JB

      If I were the Reds I would claim him because if he gets to free Agency I dont think the Reds can compete with other teams for his services.

  8. JB

    Do the AL teams get first chance to claim him before the NL teams or is it worst team scenario combined?

    • Doug Gray

      Yes and no. If more than one team claims him, then the AL gets first priority…. but only if the Orioles don’t agree to trade him to anyone who claimed him on waivers – which would be insane since they’d actually get something in return. So as long as a team puts in a claim for him and is willing to trade something for him, then the order of the claims don’t matter – it’s just a matter of offering the Orioles the best return at that point.

      • Troy

        So what’s the idea from the O’s perspective? If they didn’t like the offers before they released him, do they have reason to expect they’ll receive better offers now? Otherwise, it seems like they are now taking a risk of receiving nothing for him.

  9. AllTheHype

    Get Villar and then sign Scooter Gennett back potentially on a minor league deal (4.5 WAR in 2018) and you’ve got a nice team middle infield combo (with Galvis) for 2B + SS. Lots of flexibility with 2 guys that can switch hit and play both positions + Scooter.

      • B-town fan

        Shanesaw, do you mean Scooter’s career is over, what do you mean by that?

    • Michael E

      Please forget Scooter. We got his best two years and we should be happy with that. He was very cheap and good. If we signed him now, he’d be more costly and less good.

  10. MK

    Cesar Geronimo has become the D-Backs Vice President in charge of Latin American scouting.

  11. Justin

    I vote we do nothing. If he gets claimed and traded for, that’s one less team to compete for DiDi. If he makes it to free agency, he also drives down the price of DiDi. Maybe we even wind up signing him for less than $10 million.

    I guess no matter what this only helps the teams looking for SS’s

    • Colt Holt

      If he is the right player for the team, are you really going to squabble over a couple million in possible savings, offset by the reasonably high likelihood he is playing somewhere else?

      • Justin

        I don’t think he’s the better option. That’s why I think we shouldn’t go after him but rather Gregorious.

  12. Jim Walker

    Per The Athletic, Villar is reported to be on assignment/ outright waivers.

    https://theathletic.com/1416534/2019/11/27/explaining-and-trying-to-make-sense-of-the-orioles-jonathan-villar-waiver-request-move/?source=shared-article

    If there are claims for him, he will be awarded according to the waiver award rules and order. The Orioles will not have an opportunity to trade him in this event.

    If he is not claimed there will be a short period between the expiration of waivers and the tender deadline. During this period, the Orioles could trade him to anyone or even sign him before presumably not tendering him a contract thus avoiding the projected $10m arb related price tag on him.

    In the article linked above, Dan Connolly suggests if Villar clears waivers, the Orioles may make a final non binding offer of about $5m or about half of his projected cost in arbitration ahead of the tender deadline then nontender him if he does not accept it.

    • BK

      Thanks Jim for the article and the excellent explanation.

  13. Sliotar

    Villar is projected best choice over these other guys, but determining if any of these DFA’d middle-infield guys can be salvaged for 2020 is what makes the A’s so good, among a few other small budget sharpies….

    Matt Duffy
    Yolmer Sanchez
    Hernan Perez

    Duffy is an interesting guy to at least invite to Spring Training, if he isn’t signed. Was a 2.5 WAR player with TB in 2018, hasn’t stayed healthy since. World Series champion with Giants in 2014. Age 29 season in 2020.

    $10 million is not “nothing”… unless the Reds can’t land Gregorius and Villar is a major part of the winter splashing of cash. (Yikes.)

  14. Steve Schoenbaechler

    I have to agree. Villar seems to be one to go after. Similar offensive numbers to Didi and probably cheaper.

    • Droslovinia

      I missed the part where Didi hit 24 HR and stole 40 bases last year. Heard about his being injured, though. Why does everyone seem to be so fixated on Didi? Is he secretly Davey’s clone? Did old Honus get reincarnated?

  15. James H.

    Very interesting, but seeing as how they were willing to let viable trade pieces just disappear (O’Grady, Hergret), I find it doubtful the Reds will do anything too soon. They look pretty one-track, but I for one am happy to see them not overpay for Grandal. Would like to have seen him on our team, but not at the price of a bidding war.

    • BK

      Both are players that would be competing with others for the last bench spot or the last man in an 8-man bullpen. More likely they would begin the season as depth pieces at AAA. There’s nothing wrong with that, but those types of profiles simply don’t carry much trade value.

  16. doofus

    “Must?”

    Jeez, every time a team discards a mediocre player this board and writers erupt: “The Reds MUST have this player!”

    Why are the “talents” of these discarded players not good enough for their former teams, but expected to improve the Cincinnati Reds in 2020?

    • TR

      It’s to keep the embers of the hot stove burning during the offseason.

    • Doug Gray

      Well, in this case, this particular writer looks and sees a 4WAR player, which is an All-Star level guy, who plays a position of need for the Reds who is literally available simply for saying “we’ll take his contract”.

      Just because the Orioles are insane and cheap and don’t want to pay him the price of a quality reliever doesn’t mean he’s not good enough for his former team. It means they are insane and cheap.

      • doofus

        Villar is an “All-Star level guy”, seriously?”

      • Doug Gray

        4 WAR is absolutely All-Star caliber production. So yes, seriously.

      • doofus

        Villar’s former teams (plural) have not kept him around long. Why?

      • doofus

        “…given Baltimore’s lack of financial commitments, stated desire for a veteran shortstop, and general need for talent of all shapes and sizes, it’s somewhat surprising to see them make Villar available for common claim.”

        Why do teams not want Villar?

      • doofus

        Doug,

        I do not believe that it is imperative that the Reds get Villar.

        You can be enthralled with the “WAR” statistic, but I am one of many that believe it is an imperfect stat.

        Can anyone map out all the variables in its calculation? As I understand it, there are different variations; therefore, disparate readings can be presented for the same player.

        If Villar is an All-Star caliber player, why have the Phillies, Astros, Brewers and Orioles punt on him after a few seasons?

      • Doug Gray

        I’m not enthralled with it, but it’s a good baseline, and nothing about his 2019 season suggests it’s not an accurate portrayal.

        I already told you why the Orioles have punted on him. He wasn’t the same player with those other teams.

        You don’t have to think it’s imperative to get him. That’s fine. But he’s an upgrade at a position they clearly want to upgrade.

  17. Roger Garrett

    I agree Doug.The data is what it is and should never be taken lightly especially if he fits a position of need.I can go along with just getting the best guys you can on offense via trades or free agency but gee we know where we are weak on offense and lets say it again its at short,second and at catcher so why not find out about a guy that is better then what we have?If we can sign Iggy and Galvis that nobody wants and play Peraza for 4 years while others laugh we surely can pick up the phone and call the Orioles.