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Wednesday Bird Droppings: Where Jonathan Villar’s future with the Orioles is up in the air

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It’s been a rather slow news week in Birdland so far.

Toronto Blue Jays v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

Good morning, Birdland!

Jonathan Villar is, objectively, a good baseball player. He is an intriguing offensive player than can swipe his fair share of bases, provide some pop and get on base at a solid enough clip while playing passable defense in the middle infield. He was arguably the Orioles best player in 2019 and seems set up to do the same in 2020. But he needs to make it to Opening Day in the orange and black in order to have an opportunity to do that.

Villar’s future with the Orioles is up in the air. The players are aware of what is happening in front of them. And a player like Villar, a 28-year-old entering the final season of team control, is surely savvy enough to understand that he is unlikely to be an Oriole for too much longer regardless of his performance in the upcoming year.

MLB.com’s Joe Trezza put together a post on Tuesday covering Villar’s situation. In that post, Trezza touches on Villar’s projected salary in 2020 ($10.4 million) and mentions that it is possible that the Orioles may non-tender Villar if unable to trade him rather than paying him that money.

Wait...what?

Sure, I suppose this was always a possibility. The Orioles are saving money on big league salaries and, instead, spending it on player development and technology. That’s fine. But Villar is a legitimate major league player, one of the few in the entire organization. And even if they don’t deal him in the offseason doesn’t mean they can’t find a trade partner over the summer.

I am fully on board with Mike Elias’s plan for this team. They do not need to go make moves in an effort to build a 75-win team that picks 13th overall in the draft. But there is a difference between standing pat and actively tanking. Dropping Villar because you don’t want to pay him what he the industry has determined he is worth would be tanking. There is no way to spin it.

Speaking for myself, Villar is one of my favorite things about the current Orioles. Sure, he makes some bone-headed mistakes, but he also does some of the most fun things you will ever see on a baseball field. I will gladly tune in to watch Villar play a game. I am not nearly intrigued by Richie Martin of Pat Valaika, the two players most likely to replace Villar.

If the Orioles trade him for a prospect or two that they find interesting, I can handle that. But non-tendering him would be more than a bit annoying.

Links & Notes

Productive Villar hopes his future is in Baltimore - Baltimore Orioles
The veteran infielder says all of the right things here regarding his time with the O’s He indicates that he wants to stay in Baltimore. That is very nice! I’m not sure I totally believe it, but I appreciate the effort.

Poking Around The 2020 Steamer Projections - Birds Watcher
It’s never too early to be disappointed by the Orioles potential big league production!

Using technology to help hitters on the O’s farm - Steve Melewski
For whatever reason, there is still plenty of consternation regarding the use of analytics and technology versus good old-fashioned scouting. People that are arguing about this are either ignorant or dumb. Every team has living, breathing scouts. All teams use technology to a certain extent. The two inform each other and the best teams know how to use both. The Orioles were behind the times in the technology department. Hopefully that will never be the case again.

Orioles Outright Gabriel Ynoa - MLB Trade Rumors
This happened a couple of days ago, but the Orioles news has been slow, so it deserved a spot in the Droppings. If you are Gabriel Ynoa, you have to be a tad worried about your big league future now that you have been dropped by the most pitching-needy club in the world.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is it your birthday? Happy birthday!

Former Orioles shortstop Deivi Cruz, who spent one season with the Birds back in 2003, is turning 46 years old today. Cruz was a nine-year MLB journeyman. Over his 152 games with the O’s he hit .250/.269/.378 while contributing steady defense to a team that finished the year 71-91.

It is also the 60th birthday of third baseman Leo Hernandez. The Venezuelan native played 78 games for the Orioles between 1982 and 1985. He earned a bWAR of -1.4 in that time, but he made it to the big leagues, and that’s something to be proud of.

1969 - Orioles pitcher Mike Cuellar ties Tigers hurler Denny McLain in the voting for the American League Cy Young Aware.

2011 - Dan Duquette, the former Expos and Red Sox general manager who has been out of MLB since 2002, agrees to become the top baseball executive for the Orioles.

2013 - The Silver Slugger Awards are announced and include nine first-time winners like Orioles first baseman Chris Davis.