With his ability to play multiple positions and add both speed and power to the lineup, the Miami Marlins may have gotten a steal in Jonathan Villar.
The Marlins acquired infielder Villar from the Baltimore Orioles for minor league left-hander Easton Lucas which may have been the first step in the decision by the team’s front office to shift some of the focus to building strictly through the minor league system, and change the course of growth by adding veterans who could impact the team immediately.
It also meant the Marlins were willing to spend some money this offseason. Villar and Jesus Aguilar, who was claimed off waivers from the Tampa Bay Rays, will help the team’s infield from the start of the 2020 season.
"Per ESPN.com, “A switch-hitter, Villar turned in a career year for Baltimore last season, hitting .274 with career highs in hits (176), home runs (24) and RBIs (73) in 162 games. He ranked third in stolen bases in the American League, with 40.”"
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Those numbers alone are a cause for a smile on the face of Marlins manager Don Mattingly. A potential table-setter at the top of the order with power in Villar and a player who can play multiple positions. He is projected to be Miami’s starting third baseman, moving Brian Anderson back to the outfield again this year.
Villar’s ability to play second base and shortstop will also be a huge help to the lineup as Miguel Rojas dealt with injuries 2019 season and Isan Diaz is still learning to play on the Major League level.
"“Acquired from the Orioles for lefty pitching prospect Easton Lucas, Villar projects to lead off and play regularly,” Joe Frisaro of MLB.com writes.“The question is exactly where. Third base is the likely choice at the start of Spring Training, but if Díaz opens the season at Triple-A Wichita, Villar could be at second and Anderson at third. For now, Villar fits at the hot corner. He appeared in all 162 games with Baltimore last year. Rojas is a fallback, but he primarily is expected to be at shortstop.”"
The only player to play in all 162 games last season in a Marlins uniform was Starlin Castro, who became a free agent. Keeping players healthy will be key to an improved record in 2020.
"Per ESPN.com, “The versatile Villar has played shortstop (385 games), second base (333), third base (54) and the outfield (13). He’s a career .261 hitter who had a career-best 62 stolen bases for Milwaukee in 2016.”"