The New York Mets and their upper management team may have to go back to work to put the finishing touches on a roster that was overhauled and given a stark make over before the lock out began a few months ago. Added were future Hall of Fame starting pitcher Max Scherzer as well as helpful starting line up pieces in Eduardo Escobar and outfielders Mark Canha and Starling Marte to boost their offense. Up until the third week of February, the Mets payroll looks to be approaching $265 million.
But the Mets still don't look to be done. Rumors are swirling that once the owners lift the lockout ban there is a good chance that the Amazins still will look to add a few more starting pitchers as well as a reliever or two to finish up their momentous offseason make over. An additional bat piece may also not be out of the question.
Mets need to bring Jonathan Villar back in order to maintain good chemistry and competitiveness in 2022.
I think the Mets would be foolish to not consider bringing back an integral part of their 2021 team in Jonathan Villar. In a season mired by an under performing offense and a slew of injuries to key players throughout the year, Villar was one of the few bright spots the team could actually feel good about. In 2021, the versatile infielder slashed a .250/.322/.416 line with 18 home runs and 14 stolen bases in 142 games played. He proved to be a vital part of the Mets offense, at times seeming to be the only one producing at the plate when the team was struggling to score more than 2 runs a game throughout much of July and August last season.
Villar ended up playing a decent 3B defensively as well and put up a respectable 2.1 fWAR with a 105 wRC+. As J.D. Davis and Jeff McNeil both were out with injury, Villar did an admirable job filling in at third base and keeping the Mets infield defense somewhat respectable throughout 2021. Clutch and timely RBI hits were also a staple of Villar's game, as he displayed a solid contact rate and an ability to hit for extra base hits at times when no one else was able to get into scoring position or drive in runs last season. Best of all, he only cost the Mets $3.5 million in payroll salary.
Villar certainly proved his worth in 2021 and even though he may not come as cheap as the $3.5 million the Mets signed him for last season, a two year $11 million deal may not be out of the question. Despite the signing of Eduardo Escobar to play either second or third base, bringing back VIllar would allow the Mets to keep a defensive liability like Robinson Cano on the bench or at the DH position, where he would be best suited. It would also allow New York to use either J.D. Davis or Jeff McNeil as part of a trade package in which they could bring back some much needed starting pitching depth.
Remember back during the 2016 season, the New York Mets were feeling good about themselves, fresh off coming from a World Series appearance the year before and having brought back their famed slugger Yoenis Cespedes from the year prior. Everyone felt optimistic about their chances to go far in 2016 as a result. But similar to 2021, the Mets experienced issues in 2016 where they would go months struggling to get timely hits and to score runs as well as suffered major injuries to their key offensive bats. Luckily the Mets had a secret weapon on their roster, similar to Jonathan Villar, who was a versatile veteran infielder that stepped up and played a huge part both in the infield and at the plate to lead the Mets late season surge back into the post season that year. His name was Asdrubal Cabrera.
Similar to Villar, Cabrera was able to come in and fill vital defense roles at 2B, shortstop and third base as the Mets were seeing their starters go down with injury in 2016. Late in August, the Mets were 5.5 games out of the second wild card spot, playing terribly on offense and were two games under .500 with only forty games left to play. Cabrera all of a sudden went on a tear where he batted almost .350 and hit 10 home runs and knocked in 29 RBI in the final 40 games for the Mets. His offensive production was second to only Mike Trout in all of baseball during that final stretch. More importantly, and similar to Villar, Cabrera was popular in that Mets club house and was looked upon as a catalyst and a leader by his teammates.
I bring up Asdrubal Cabrera only to stress the fact of how important it is to have a catalyst or a "glue guy" with which others can rally around and look to for inspiration. Usually all championship teams have this sort of player on their team in one form or another. These types of players are vital to a team going far in the regular and the postseason. I really do believe Villar has all the makings of becoming one of these types of players for the Mets in 2022. The franchise would be wise to bring him back if they want to go far into October.