The Orioles have placed infielder Jonathan Villar on waivers, as MASN’s Roch Kubatko reported Wednesday afternoon:
#orioles have put infielder Jonathan Villar on waivers. Been trying to trade him before Monday's deadline to tender contracts to arbitration eligible players.— Roch Kubatko (@masnRoch) November 27, 2019
Villar, 28, has been somewhat inconsistent over a seven-year major-league career. But he was spectacular in 2019, posting a 4.0 WAR season as rated by both Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs. He hit .274/.339/.453 with 24 homers and 40 steals, making him the Orioles’ most player from an offensive standpoint by a rather wide margain. He’s not a particularly good defensive player, having posted -11 defensive runs saved over 733.1 innings at second base and an even 0 DRS over 658 innings at shortstop, but that versatility is obviously valuable, and the fact that he can play a capable major-league shortstop only boosts his value. One would think that it’d be a pretty easy call for the Orioles to bring Villar back in 2020 if they were making an earnest effort to be competitive, but MLB Trade Rumors projected him to earn $10.4 million in arbitration this offseason, so Baltimore obviously was willing to deal with the loss of talent in order to save some money.
Unless they make any additions this offseason, the Orioles now project to roll with Hanser Alberto at second base, Richie Martin at shortstop, and Rio Ruiz at third base to begin the 2019 season. Despite his serious defensive shortcomings, it’s possible that they could give DH Renato Núñez more time at third base as well.