The Cubs announced Friday that they’ve designated infielder Jonathan Villar for assignment in order to clear a spot on the active and 40-man roster for fellow infielder David Bote, who has been reinstated from the 60-day injured list.
Villar, 31, signed a one-year, $6MM contract with the Cubs this winter on the heels of a solid showing with the Mets. The versatile switch-hitter produced a .249/.322/.416 batting line in Queens last year (105 wRC+) and carried a .259/.327/.408 overall batting line from 2018-21. However, the 2022 season in Chicago hasn’t gone well at all, as Villar has limped to a career-worst .222/.271/.327 output through his first 166 plate appearances.
Villar’s struggles at the plate stem from a sudden downturn in his ability to do much of anything against fastballs. He entered the 2022 season as a career .251 hitter against fastballs, but he’s seen 231 fastballs this season and posted a disastrous .119/.174/.119 batting line in his 46 plate appearances that have ended with a heater. There’s perhaps some poor luck from a BABIP standpoint (.217), but Villar has also whiffed in 43.5% of those plate appearances and posted a career-worst 18.2% swinging-strike rate against fastballs — so the poor showing can’t be blamed entirely on small samples and batted-ball luck.
The Cubs have used Villar at second base (225 innings), third base (95 innings) and shortstop (17 innings) this season, but defensive metrics are down on him at all three spots. Villar has never rated well as a shortstop, so it’s not a surprise to see sparse usage and poor ratings there. However, he’s generally been a solid enough defender at second base — at least until the 2022 season. In this year’s 225 frames, he’s posted a staggering -7 Defensive Runs Saved mark and received a similarly damning grade from Statcast’s Outs Above Average (-5).
By designating Villar for assignment, the Cubs are effectively eating the roughly $3.4MM of his contract that has yet to be paid out. They’ll remain on the hook for that money unless another team claims Villar off waivers or acquires him in a trade — both of which seem quite unlikely, given the veteran’s struggles at the plate this year. The likeliest outcome is that Villar will be released and become a free agent. At that point, any of the league’s other 29 teams can sign him and owe him only the prorated league minimum for any time spent on their Major League roster. That sum would be subtracted from what the Cubs owe Villar.
Bote, 29, returns to the Cubs after missing the entire season to date while recovering from November shoulder surgery. The infielder separated his shoulder during a game last May, and while the injury didn’t immediately require surgery, it clearly hampered Bote at the plate. In 327 plate appearances, Bote posted a career-worst .199/.276/.330 batting line. The surgery originally came with a projected six-month recovery period, but Bote’s return comes closer to eight months out from the date of the procedure.
It’s been a rough couple of seasons for Bote, who back in 2019 signed a surprising five-year extension that came with a $16MM guarantee. It was something of a head-scratching move for the Cubs even at the time, as Bote was a part-time player who’d posted a .239/.319/.408 batting line as a rookie in 2018. The first year of the contract certainly made it look like a sound investment, as Bote slashed at a .257/.362/.422 rate and was an underrated contributor on a Cubs team that was in contention for much of the year. He’s hit just .200/.285/.353 in 472 plate appearances since that time, however, although the shoulder injury certainly offers some explanation for last year’s struggles, at least.
The Cubs owe Bote $2.5MM this season and will pay him salaries of $4MM and $5.5MM in 2023 and 2024. They also hold a pair of options, the first valued at $7MM and the second at $7.6MM.
He’s much better than he showed this year. He won’t be out of work very long.
No he’s been even worse. I have never seen a worse defensive player in 50 years of watching the game. I didn’t follow him much last year with the Mets but I think he ate himself out of a contract for next year. He is fat as a cow and can’t move. He is unplayable defensively.
Well maybe then he could make cheese, and butter.
Cubs would be better off with David Bowie than David Bote. But watch Ross play him like every other day or more. I just don’t get what they see in him.
Replacing mediocrity with mediocrity. Man, Hoyer has a s#it load of work to do in the offseason.
Bote is not worth a roster spot, but maybe they can flip Villar to the Braves or White Sox for a marginal prospect.
The Braves and White Sox are both contenders, there is no way they would want Villar.
Villar is probably going to the jays. They’ve been in on him the last few years
I doubt it, he showed poorly the last time the Jays acquired him.
You’re not flipping a guy carrying a negative 0.6 WAR in half a season. Teams want him, they’ll wait.
If the Braves pick him up he’ll end up MVP in the playoffs
Don’t bring him back Mets.
Villar is better than Bote, yet another confusing decision from this dreadful front office.
You obviously haven’t watched Villar this season.
Villar has been awful!!
He is a butcher on defense, makes bonehead moves and not that special with the bat.
Villar and Simmons both are bordering on Aaron Miles territory.
David Bote, not being on the roster has done much more benefiicial than Villar has done being on it.
Villar cant hit or field but other than he’s basically an All Star
Angels could use him. Better option than Velazquez or Rengifo.
Good, I hope the Angels sign him, then.
He is a better option than anyone on the infield right now for the Angels not named Walsh.
That is insane, yet true. That organization just does not know how to build a team.
I am glad they got rid of Villar, Heyward better be next.
He won’t be. They may cut him after the season or during next years season, but J-Hey will finish the year in Chicago, even if he continues to put up a . 500 something OPS
Heyward’s day is coming soon. As soon as Suzuki and Hermosillo are back—and as soon as “Jackson” Frazier heats up in Iowa Heyward will be gone.
Heyward at least provides defensive value, and it’s not like the Cubs currently have any outfielders in AAA who would hit much better than him, anyway.
He doesn’t provide defensive value. He has declined and is now well below average.
Frazier and Velazquez both are more worthy of AB’s than Heyward. There’s a chance either or both of those two can contribute to future Cubs teams.
Jackson or Clint?
So much for Villar being a trade chip for Chicago at the deadline; watch him go to a playoff team and turn his season around.
There is a reason winning teams always seem to take a pass on him when Available
Dorothy—this is exactly where the Cubs front office has been horrific this year…..a resounding “yes” to Robertson—but think of all the “probable flip” tokens that have just been terrible and cost a lot of money: Miley, Simmons, Smyly, Villar, Frazier, Newcomb…..terrible on top of terrible and will get NOTHING for these guys.
Givens and Martin have been passable.
I don’t think Stroman was a sign to flip guy so I left his $20M out of the waste of money.
Miley and Smiley have been good and will net a return if healthy. Robertson will bring something of significance.
Just need a couple decent healthy starts each from Miley and Smyly before the deadline and a couple of lottery tickets will be acquired.
Guys, neither Miley nor Smiley have averaged even 5 innings per start and combined they have 61 innings pitched. It’s the END of June!
I’m sure the plan/hope was for each of them, by the trade deadline to have 16-18 starts (not 13 combined) with some net positive results.
The fact that Miley has gone on the IL a couple of times already, got back on the mound and walked off with pain in the second/third inning gives no hope that he’s going to return July 10 and throw three straight shutouts to help get a prospect back.
As for Smyly, see above—non healthy pitchers are going to net you absolutely nothing—or at the very least, nowhere near what the Cubs had drawn up on the board in the winter.
Wow what a waste of money.
An inability to do much of anything against fastballs? C’mon, it’s not like he’s going to be seeing a lot of those every night, right?
Villar was instrumental in the Cub’s two wins over Atlanta last Friday & Saturday!
I bet you didn’t watch him play this week.
Wished the Cubs could designate the whole team for assignment….
Given the spate of injuries across town i could see Villar staying in Chicago on the south side
If you’re taking rejects from the Cubs you have a lot more problems than injuries. Shouldn’t the Sox just DFA there own problems at second base?
Someone explain to me how he’s less valuable to the team than Jason Heyward.
The dude hurt his face during a stretching exercise and went on the DL. Being on the DL was the most productive he was all season.
Has anyone on here watched a single inning of Villar playing defense? You can’t hide him anywhere.
Where can you hide Heywards bat?
Wherever it is he hasn’t found it
The same place Villar’s bat and glove are hiding. At least Heyward’s glove is still present.
Curly Was The Smart Stooge
Under Tammy Faye’s make up?
Rumor has it Jimmy Hoffa was actually under Tammy’s makeup where he hide from the mob for years.
Curly Was The Smart Stooge
He’s not but he doesn’t have that contract
At least Heyward is still a good defender. Villar can’t hit nor play defense.
He’s really not
According to the metrics, he’s not a very good defender anymore and in any case he’s a net negative.
The white sox have Josh Harrison at 2b. Lol is Villar an upgrade. ? You’d think anyone would be. Perfect white Sox. Hole in lineup play everyday.
Villar needed to go, his defense atrocious not to mention poor hitting. Much prefer Bote and wish Villar well.
Eric Olson 2
Add Simmons to the DFA list. He makes it to the Mendoza line I’d shocked.
Eric—Simmons has an OPS+ of 14—think about how historically BAD he is—he’s not good at anything. And, it’s truly amazing how good he was three-four years ago. A good major leaguer, with a rolled up newspaper has a better chance of getting a double than Simmons with a bat.
I had high hopes when they signed him but this is long overdue. Can’t have a negative glove as a poor hitting utility infielder. At least he swiped a few bags
Credit Eppler and the Mets in realizing that Pillar and Villar were unlikely to repeat their 2021 numbers.
I for one am super happy the Cubs extended Hoyer and Ross…. Both moves have worked out amazingly….
Let’s see how many worthless contracts we can have on one roster… maybe we can dfa Happ when Hermosillo comes off the IL.
Dumpster Divin Theo
Shake shake,shake. Shake your Bote
Are you the lamest guy on here or are you the lamest guy on here?
Cubs management has been so bad it’s like they make horrible decisions on purpose. Almost like they wish they never won the World Series and could continue the “curse.”
Is it? They weren’t expected to win this year. They haven’t. I don’t think “good management” is the difference in contention for them .
Overall. Past several years.
I don’t really follow the team too closely so you probably know more than me. I thought they’ve handled things pretty well but my understanding is pretty superficial. I thought the trades they made were ok.
Maybe the trades last year might work out. Hopefully. They just are a head scratching organization.
I feel Tom Ricketts has done a decent job building some infrastructure, but doing it during a pandemic isn’t going to help the immediate result. He has rebuilt the neighborhood into a true tourist destination that will infuse capital into the on- field product eventually. Hoyer has been doing what he could to re-do the roster and payroll from what Theo destroyed. But this is what Theo does. I was living in Boston just after the championship years and saw how long it took then to recover.
Some of it is just bad luck, though. For example, when the Cubs picked Miley up off of waivers, everyone was congratulating them on their shrewd move while blasting the Reds at being so cheap to let him go like that.
Sorry I made this to difficult for everyone. I thought it was obvious. The horrible drafting. Bad free agent signings. ALL the insane never ending dumpster diving signings that almost never work out. Just go back and look at all their moves. Instead of making themselves better they go after garbage. Just think about it.
This has not been a good year for NL DHs. Aside from Harper, who wasn’t supposed to be a primary DH in the first place, it’s been a very weak position in its first permanent year in the Senior Curcuit so far. Especially among the guys who were specifically signed or otherwise initially expected to be the primary DH, many of them like Villar, Dickerson (both Corey and Alex), McCutchen, Moran, Beer, and especially Cano have been awful; while others like Cruz, Muncy, and Ruf have been better but still hitting well below their usual levels.
Moran and Villar flopping as DHs isn’t at all surprising. Muncy is surprising.
Moran has a career 98 wRC+ and also a 98 wRC+ in 2021. Villar has a career 95 wRC+ and a 105 wRC+ in 2021. Neither of them will ever be All-Stars, but they were still decent hitters before this year.
I see what you’re saying. They’re worse than expected. I was going with the idea that even a good year Colin Moran is a bad DH. But DHs aren’t really as good as one would hope they’d be in general.
Is it the way the NL has been using the DH? I believe many teams are using the DH as a spot to give an everyday fielder a break, rather than a true dedicated position, unless you have an absolute statue of a player who just can’t field.
I think that is a large part of it, yea. Not as many full time DHs as you’d think.
Many NL teams are using it that way rather than as a truly dedicated spot, but either way, every team in both leagues still needs a primary DH who hits at least decently and gets the majority of the DH starts when all the other starters play the field.
Update: So much for Harper, at least for the next couple of months.
Your team should trade for Duvall. Apparently, he is a good hitter.
Villar made sure to kill the Braves before getting DFA’d. He is clearly still on the Mets payroll.
If he can’t catch up to a fastball, his career is cooked.
The Cubs front office was never really trying to win. The signing of guys like Villar and Stroman was just cover so they weren’t accused of being the Oakland A’s. Now that the charade is effectively over because the team stinks they’ll try and move the spare parts for, well nothing. Hayward? Hendricks? Meh. Contreras might bring something back. However, how much do you get for a FA to be, half year rental? It’s a bad situation that won’t get better quickly. They don’t or won’t spend what it takes.
What cover? They weren’t likely to compete but they still tried to improve. Why bash them for that?
No, up until they started rebuilding this year, the Cubs were spending a lot. In fact, it was *because* they were spending so much (and in some cases like Heyward spending rather poorly) that they were unable to afford to adequately patch up all of the roster holes that starting appearing in 2019, especially with their pitching, and then the pandemic hit and tightened their finances even further.
Heyward will no longer wear a major league uni once he’s DFA. Probably after the season. A few of their players will be turned into prospects soon. Contreras and Robertson for sure. Hendricks is owed money. A lot will depend on how he does for the next month. He was lights out tonight against a good team.
They might be better off extending Contreras, though. He’s still young and good enough that he could provide veteran leadership and still decent playing value for the next good Cubs team.
I wish they’d just stop pretending to compete. Just keep playing left over rule 5 guys and bring up young guys and give them a chance.
They have been doing just that. Still, they don’t have enough of those kind of players to do that at every position and all 5 rotation spots without rushing guys from AAA before they’re ready.
Are there any players on the Cubs they can use to build a winning team?
They’re in the low minors right now. They need to let them marinate longer and not be tempted to bring them up too soon.