What will the Baltimore Orioles do with Jonathan Villar?
It was widely assumed last season that Jonathan Villar would be traded by the trade deadline, but the deadline passed, no one offered Mike Elias a deal that made the organization better, and Villar stayed in the lineup, putting together one of the top offensive performances in the second half of the season for Baltimore.
Villar is now set to earn a raise in arbitration and has one more year on his contract. MLB Trade Rumors is projecting an increase in Villar’s salary from just less than $5 million to $10+ million in 2020. Is that salary too much for the Orioles to hang on to?
When asked about Villar on Thursday night, Mike Elias mentioned Villar’s stellar season and how he’s performing at his peak now at 28, with just one more year on his deal. “Whether he stays beyond that, I don’t know” said Elias. “Where we’re at as an organization, we have to entertain things with these guys and take the long term view of the club in mind.” “Money and budgets are a huge part of our business.” referring to the large group of arbitration-eligible players this offseason.
We know that Villar isn’t going to be a part of winning Orioles team, but non-tendering the one guy on the roster who steals bases at a high clip and led the way with a 4.0 fWAR season seems out of the question. After listening to Elias, it could now very well be an option.
While I’m sure Elias will work hard to find a deal and move Villar at what is likely to be his peak value, I find it very hard to believe he is non-tendered. Even at $10 million, you have to sign him, try to move him and if an offseason deal doesn’t come fruition, hope he has another good season and try again at next year’s deadline to salvage what you can.
Until a decision is made, this is sure to be on the bigger talking points of the offseason.