The Seattle Mariners need to add to their infield once the lockout ends and teams can make moves again. They have been linked to Kris Bryant and Trevor Story who are certainly very good players. There is no guarantee that they get either guy, and they could be looking elsewhere for an infielder. The club should take a look at veteran infielder Jonathan Villar to be a possible second baseman, third baseman, or utility infielder.
Jonathan Villar is a very underrated player because he has been on some bad teams and has not been a full-time player for most of his career. He can move around all over the infield except first base, and he even played the outfield earlier in his career. His last three full seasons have been quite good. Those would be 2018, 2019, and 2021. 2020 was a rough year for him but it was only a small sample size and his 2021 numbers are much more in line with his earlier performances.
In those three years, Jonathan Villar has played in at least 141 games, had a WAR of at least 2.1, 56 home runs, 89 stolen bases, and posted a wRC+ ranging from 95 to 107. Those numbers are all quite good and suggest that he is at least a quality major leaguer. He did hit most of his home runs in 2019 when he hit 24 and he had 35 and 40 steals in 2018 and 2019, so his speed may be going away, but the Mariners only had two players with double-digit steals in 2021.
Signing Jonathan Villar would be a great way to get value for the Mariners
Getting Jonathan Villar to come to the Pacific Northwest would be a great way to increase the floor of the team’s offensive production. He can play everywhere except first base in the infield, and he does not have to be an everyday player to be valuable. He could be one of the best backup plans in the league and still play a lot. He could replace Dylan Moore and provide much better offensive production.
In 2021 Villar slashed .249/.322/.416 in 142 games and had a 105 wRC+ and 2.1 WAR. Those numbers are way better than what the Mariners got from Dylan Moore in 2021. Villar is also a switch hitter which also gives the Mariners lineup more depth because he doesn’t have to sit against a certain handedness matchup. He hits for better average against lefties, but hit for much more power against righties and was still very good.
Signing Villar would not cost a lot at all. He turns 31 in May and is not going to get a long-term contract. Maybe a two-year deal would be necessary to bring him in, but that would be about $10 million in total for two years at most. A one-year deal worth about $5-10 million should be able to bring him in. He played for the Mets last year on a one-year deal worth less than $4 million, so the M’s should be able to bring the veteran in on a similar deal.
Overall Jonathan Villar is a solid player who would not make or break the Mariners 2022 season, but he would be a nice veteran piece to add to solidify the infield. He is a seasoned player with playoff experience which would be nice for the M’s to add. He is also not going to be an up and down performer like younger players, he would be a consistent and steady performer to have for the 2022 season.