Mets Rumors: Jonathan Villar, NYM Agree to $3.55M Contract

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 9, 2021

Toronto Blue Jays' Jonathan Villar (20) fields a grounder by Philadelphia Phillies Phil Gosselin during the second inning of a baseball game, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)
Laurence Kesterson/Associated Press

The New York Mets reportedly bolstered their bench Tuesday by signing free-agent infielder Jonathan Villar.

According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, it's a one-year, $3.55 million contract with incentives.

Villar was terrific for the Baltimore Orioles in 2019. He posted a .274/.339/.453 triple-slash line with 24 home runs and 40 stolen bases while playing in all 162 games.

The 29-year-old Dominican Republic native couldn't match that success in 2020. He posted a career-low .593 OPS with two homers in 52 games split between the Miami Marlins and Toronto Blue Jays. He did remain a factor on the bases with 16 steals.

It continued a trend of mediocre seasons with an occasional breakout year mixed in. He also shined in 2016 with the Milwaukee Brewers, compiling a career-best .826 OPS with 19 long balls and an MLB-leading 62 swipes.

Most of Villar's experience across eight MLB seasons has come at shortstop (406 games) and second base (358), but he's also seen action at third base and in center field and left field.

His versatility should come in handy for a Mets squad whose starting lineup is set for Opening Day, barring any injuries during spring training.

He'll likely spend most of his time filling in around the infield with Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil locked in as the starters up the middle, but he could also see some spot starts in the outfield, especially against left-handed pitchers.

If he performs like he did in 2019, New York manager Luis Rojas will find a way to get him in the lineup, even if he doesn't have a defined position. Ben Zobrist, Marwin Gonzalez and Brock Holt have filled that kind of role in recent years.

If Villar's struggles from 2020 carry over to the new season, his role won't be nearly as large, but he could provide late-game value as a pinch runner.

It's a high-upside signing as the Mets look to keep pace with the Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals in the highly competitive NL East.