MIAMI – The Miami Marlins made their second big move to bolster their offense on Monday by acquiring Baltimore Orioles infielder Jonathan Villar in exchange for minor-league left-handed pitcher Easton Lucas.
Couple that with claiming former All-Star first baseman Jesus Aguilar, and the Marlins have added two key power-hitting bats to a lineup that was among the worst in baseball last year.
To make room for both players, Tayron Guerrero was designated for assignment and utility hitter JT Riddle was non-tendered.
The move for Villar is likely going to come with a price. Villar made $10.4 million last season with the Orioles before he was waived last week.
But, like Aguilar, it adds a needed power bat to their lineup.
The Marlins finished 2019 last in Major League Baseball in slugging percentage (.375), on-base plus slugging (.673) and home runs (146) while also finishing second-to-last in runs scored (615).
Villar’s signing should help remedy that in the short term and complement a Marlins lineup that, barring injury, will be centered around third baseman/right fielder Brian Anderson, shortstop Miguel Rojas and catcher Jorge Alfaro. The Marlins hope Isan Diaz will improve upon his rookie-year struggles to become a mainstay at second base.
Villar, 28 and a Dominican Republic native, had a .274 batting average last season with career-highs in home runs (24), runs scored (111) and RBI (73) to go along with 33 doubles and 40 stolen bases. He was one of five players to play all 162 games in 2019.
For his career, which includes stints with the Houston Astros (2013-2015), Milwaukee Brewers (2016-2018) and Orioles (2018-2019), Villar has a .261 batting average, 78 home runs, 381 runs scored, 268 RBI and 202 stolen bases. He led MLB with 62 stolen bases in 2016.
As for where he’ll play in the field? Villar has primarily been a middle infielder through his seven major-league seasons. He has, however, started at third base before. It wouldn’t be unheard of for the Marlins to play him at third base, accompanied by Rojas at shortstop, Diaz at second and Garrett Cooper at first.
Anderson, who the Marlins see as their long-term third baseman, can continue playing in right field with some combination of Jon Berti, Harold Ramirez, Lewis Brinson, Monte Harrison and Jesus Sanchez among others being candidates for left and center field.
Visit Miami Herald at www.miamiherald.com