The Chicago Cubs designated infielder Jonathan Villar for assignment last Friday after being a disappointment for the North Siders in Chicago this season. Villar batted just .222 with 2 home runs and a .598 OPS, and is someone that should be flying in the New York Mets' radar these days.
Villar had surprising success with the Mets last season, however. He hit .249 with 18 home runs and 14 stolen bases on a team that was challeneged offensively. Villar was originally part of the "bench mob" that was so prevalent during the 2021 campaign, but was thrusted into an everyday role with the endless slew of injuries that plagued the team.
In fact, Villar had the second most at-bats of anyone on the team with 454 because of the injuries, was third in home runs, and led the team in stolen bases. So Luis Rojas had him see a lot of action last season.
Villar is a depth piece the Mets should add because of his power and speed quotient, a needed departure from Chicago, and his familiarity with Buck Showalter.
Cubs fans will probably disagree here with us on this, because we watched him play last year, but he is someone who showed the Mets last year he is a solid all-around player. Factor in the combination of defense, baserunning, power, and pure instincts that Villar offered the Mets last year, and he is someone who fits into the culture that Buck Showalter established in spring training.
Let us not forget that Villar played for two months under Buck Showalter in Baltimore in 2018 (he was moved to Orioles in the trade that sent Jonathan Schoop to the Brewers). Showalter has familiarity with Villar, and he used him a lot as a base stealer (he stole 21 bases in just 54 games in Baltimore).
It does seem, however, that Villar needs a change of scenery away from the Cubs. Everything that Villar did well for the Mets last year is what he has done poorly in 2022. His xwOBA is .270, which ranks in the 2nd percentile among all qualified hitters this year, and has a whiff rate of 35 percent, in which only 14 players with more than 150 plate appearances this season have a higher rate. Perhaps a better hitting coach in Eric Chavez can help right his wrongs from this season.
Also, his defense got bad, as he had a -10 defensive runs saved metric is tied for the worst in baseball this season. But the Mets did see strong defense from Villar last season when he filled in for their injured starters, and that was why he got so many at-bats and starts last season.
The Mets as a whole have been a well-coached team full of great instinctive players who blend in well under Showalter's culture change and Villar would most certainly fit the bill of what the Mets have been trying to accomplish this year at the plate.