Jonathan Villar could address the glaring second base problem for the Cubs.
The 2021 offseason is underway and the Chicago Cubs haven’t made much noise. The glaring need for this group is in the outfield, as Jason Heyward and Ian Happ are the only two on the active roster.
However, the infield has its own holes the team needs to address. The talent is still there to compete in 2021, but having more production at second base is crucial. Jonathan Villar is a free agent that could provide just what the offense is looking for.
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The Cubs currently have Nico Hoerner and David Bote as their two options for second base. Both have their own question marks next to their names and no one seems to have total confidence in either.
Hoerner was the team’s first round pick out of Stanford in 2018. Due to a need at second, he was called up for the final 20 games of the 2019 season and was part of the team for all of 2020. He dazzled in 2019 but regressed in 2020 with a .222 average and has shown many people that he needs to spend some more time in the minors to continue his development. Keeping him as a mainstay on the big league roster would not allow him to experience full development and I don’t believe he would reach his full potential as a result.
Bote is a third baseman by trade but is willing to put in the work at second. His .753 career OPS is above average and he is known for having the clutch gene at times, but a .968 fielding percentage at second and .240 average makes it feel like more production at the position could be out there.
Villar presents a great opportunity for the Cubs to bring in a veteran second baseman who can bring in tools the team is lacking. The switch hitter has spent eight seasons in MLB with the Astros, Brewers, Orioles, Marlins and Blue Jays.
Villar owns a career WAR of 11 and would be a different player than the Cubs are used to. He led the league in stolen bases in 2016 with 62 and averages 42 per season. To put that into perspective, Javier Baez led the team with 11 in 2019. He would bring in a different, more aggressive mentality to running the bases and could help this group find new ways to manufacture runs, something they need desperately on offense.
His career batting average of .259 would rank fifth amongst members on the active roster. He also sports a career fielding percentage of .973 at second base, five points higher than Bote’s. He signed a one year deal for $8 million with the Blue Jays in 2019 and is currently an unrestricted free agent at age 30.
Villar fits a lot of what the Cubs are looking for. He is a true second baseman with veteran leadership and adds tools that the current roster needs to improve upon. He would be able to sign a club friendly contract and Hoerner would then have the opportunity to spend more time in the minors to properly develop and become the second baseman of the future for this team.
The Cubs have a lot of items to address, but bringing in a veteran second baseman is something that should have a lot of emphasis on. The future of the organization is at stake and Villar would set Chicago up for not only 2021, but the long haul.