And you thought the Orioles were tanking last season.
Slugging middle infielder Jonathan Villar was placed on outright waivers by Baltimore on Wednesday, according to multiple media reports. The move was made to beat the non-tender deadline for arbitration-eligible players on Monday.
According to MASN Sports, which first reported the move, the Orioles were unable to find an acceptable trade with another team for the 28-year-old Villar.
The switch-hitting Dominican is coming off his best statistical year with the Orioles, including career highs in hits (176), home runs (24) and RBIs (73) while batting .274. He also had 40 stolen bases, which ranked third in the American League. Villar had a 4.0 WAR, the best number on a team that went 54-108 last season.
So, why don’t they want him?
The Athletic reported the rebuilding Orioles are disinterested in paying the salary he will likely be awarded after going through the arbitration process. By putting him on the waivers now, they are essentially offering his contract to the rest of baseball until Monday. If no team chooses to do that then Villar goes back to the Orioles.
The site reports that the most likely option is Villar being non-tendered and becoming a free agent.
“Good for O’s bottom line; a soulless baseball move,” ESPN’s Buster Olney remarked on Twitter.
He batted .270 with 32 home runs, 97 RBIs and 61 stolen bases in 216 games for the Orioles after they acquired him and two other players in a deal with the Milwaukee Brewers for second baseman Jonathan Schoop at the 2018 trade deadline. He played for the Brewers from 2016-18 after starting his major league career with the Houston Astros (2013-15).
Other arbitration-eligible Orioles ahead of Monday’s deadline include infielder Hanser Alberto, outfielder Trey Mancini, starting pitcher Dylan Bundy and relievers Mychal Givens, Miguel Castro and Richard Bleier.
— With Field Level Media
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