Jonathan Villar can be a serviceable short-term shortstop for the New York Yankees.
Shortstop has been a priority for the New York Yankees all season, and it’s astonishing Jonathan Villar’s name hasn’t come up yet.
He doesn’t have the power of Carlos Correa and Trevor Story, nor the elite glove. They’re both likely future Hall of Famers and still in their 20s. Villar, meanwhile, turns 31 in May and will play for his seventh MLB team in ten seasons unless he re-signs with the New York Mets.
Could the Yankees theoretically write one of their signature big checks and land either Correa or Story? They most certainly could, but they don’t have to. Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza are down on the farm, and Volpe in particular is turning some heads.
While Volpe and/or Peraza keep developing, why not use Jonathan Villar as a placeholder shortstop in the meantime?
Jonathan Villar balances the lineup
Villar’s main selling point is being a switch-hitter. Remember, the Yankees might not re-sign Anthony Rizzo or land Freddie Freeman in free agency, and Luke Voit makes the lineup more right-handed already. Given Voit’s inevitable stint on the injured list, you see where this makes having another lefty bat important.
What if Brian Cashman traded Gio Urshela to unclog the infield a bit, and then inked Jonathan Villar? He hit .249 with 18 home runs and 42 RBI for the New York Mets in 2021. Even better is Villar hits well from both sides of the plate and will only benefit from Yankee Stadium’s short porches.
Whether at the top or in the bottom third, the New York Yankees can find a way to utilize Jonathan Villar.
Jonathan Villar is a good infield anchor
Let’s circle back to Volpe and Peraza, Volpe in particular. He’s seven weeks from his 21st birthday, and the Derek Jeter comparisons are already here. Last season, Volpe hit .294 with 27 homers across two levels of A-ball.
That means he’s probably starting the season at Double-A Somerset, and Peraza is looking more and more like a trade chip. Do we really want to roll the dice and gamble on Gio Urshela being a viable fielder at shortstop until either man is ready?
Villar, meanwhile, has plenty of experience playing shortstop as well as all around the infield. He isn’t a particularly strong fielder, with a -6 DRS at shortstop, but again. He isn’t here for a long time. This would solely be in a transitional role.
Most important of all, Jonathan Villar isn’t expensive. He earned just north of $3.5 million with the Mets last season and won’t command much of a raise. That is, if he gets one at all.
What’s to stop Brian Cashman from contacting Villar’s agent and offering him a one-year deal for a clean $4 million? Maybe an option for next year too? The Yankees have certainly shown they’re fine spending less, Gerrit Cole’s contract aside, so Villar could be a prime free agency target after all.
The Yankees have a need, and Jonathan Villar fills the need.
Cashman, your move.