Jonathan Villar is headed to the Sunshine State…
The Miami Marlins have acquired the 28-year-old Dominican professional baseball player from the Baltimore Orioles for minor league left-handed pitcher Easton Lucas.
Villar, an infielder, was reportedly placed on waivers last week as the team sought a trade partner.
The Marlins also claimed first baseman Jesus Aguilaroff waivers after he was designated for assignment last week by the Tampa Bay Rays.
A switch-hitter, Villar turned in a career year for Baltimore last season, hitting .274 with career highs in hits (176), home runs (24) and RBIs (73) in 162 games. He ranked third in stolen bases in the American League, with 40.
“He was a tremendously exciting player for us, a joy to have,” general manager Mike Elias said Monday. “It was hard to let him go, but we’ve got to keep an eye on our strategic objectives, which is prioritize the future right now.”
Villar was too expensive to keep around. He’s eligible for arbitration and likely to earn about $10 million next year, so Elias opted to trade the 28-year-old as part of a more substantial teardown.
“It makes a lot of sense, and it’s something you have to do,” Elias said.
The GM described Villar as “a guy who’s going into his last year of arbitration with the team and facing free agency who is set to command a large salary with his play this year and years past” — qualities that don’t fit with the master plan for rebuilding the team.
“We’re going to miss him, but this is the right move,” Elias said.
Baltimore finished last in the AL East in 2019, the first season with Elias at the helm. From the outset, Elias made it clear that the roster will be overhauled before being injected with young talent.
The Orioles also reached a one-year agreement with lefty Richard Bleier and offered 2020 contracts to first baseman Trey Mancini, infielder Hanser Alberto and right-handers Dylan Bundy, Miguel Castro and Mychal Givens.
“These are guys that had good years and continue to grow and are deserving of the opportunity to keep going forward,” Elias said.
Aguilar was an All-Star for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2018, when he had 35 home runs and 108 RBIs. This season, he had 12 homers and 50 RBIs for the Milwaukee and Rays.
Aguilar, 29, is expected to share time at first with Garrett Cooper, who had 15 homers and 50 RBIs for Miami this season.
Aguilar has a .256 average, with 63 homers and 215 RBIs in six seasons with the Cleveland Indians, Milwaukee and Tampa Bay.
To make room on Miami’s 40-man roster, infielder JT Riddle and right-handed pitcher Tayron Guerrero were designated for assignment. Riddle then was not offered a contract, making him a free agent.