The Reds are in discussions with free agent infielder Jonathan Villar, per MLB Network’s Jon Heyman (via Twitter). Yancen Pujols initially reported that Villar and the Reds had a deal for $2MM plus incentives, but it now appears as if discussions are ongoing. Villar, one of the last free agent infielders on the market with extended experience in a starting role, could end up settling for a minor league deal before it’s all said and done, per Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer (via Twitter).
Villar has, at times, been a well above-average option in the infield, most recently in 2019 when he appeared in all 162 games for the Orioles. He put up a triple slash line of .274/.339/.453 with 24 home runs and 40 stolen bases while splitting his time between second and short. As he approaches his age-30 season, Villar boasts a 96 wRC+ for his career, but he could use a season of reputation rehabilitation after struggling to a 66 wRC+ in 207 plate appearances split between the Marlins and Blue Jays in 2020. Still, Villar runs well, walks at an acceptable 8.8 percent rate for his career, and if he can return to the .179 ISO level he posted with the Orioles, his bat has some pop as well.
It seemed at the outset of the offseason that the Reds would be players in the shortstop market, and though they dipped their toes in the free agent market, ultimately, they stood idly by as Marcus Semien, Andrelton Simmons, Ha-Seong Kim, and Didi Gregorius found homes outside Cincinnati.
More to come…