Jonathan Villar is returning from New York on a flight back to Miami — but he’s doing so while no longer a member of the Marlins.
Villar, who can play second base, shortstop, third and all three outfield spots, was traded during the Marlins’ Monday game, a 5-3 win over the host New York Mets.
On Tuesday night, the Marlins will host Villar’s new team, the Toronto Blue Jays.
Villar’s final play as a member of the Marlins was a stellar and sprawling catch in shallow center field from his second base position, robbing Wilson Ramos of an RBI single.
Minutes later, Villar was replaced by pinch hitter Jon Berti.
“During that half-inning, someone told me we have to take out (Villar),” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “(The trade) wasn’t official yet, but we had to take him out.
“I told (Villar), ‘Great play, but something’s going on,’ and he just nodded his head.'”
Villar has not had a great year. He is batting .259 with a .315 on-base percentage and a .660 OPS. He was moved out of the leadoff spot after showing a lack of patience at the plate. He leads the league with nine steals but he has also been thrown out a league-high five times, and his defense has been sloppy (five errors).
Last year, Villar was much better while playing for the Baltimore Orioles, posting a .792 OPS with 33 doubles, five triples, 24 homers, 40 steals and just nine times caught stealing.
It is that version of Villar that the Blue Jays surely remember.
“Villar always seemed to play great against us,” Toronto manager Charlie Montoya said. “He gives us good versatility.”
The Marlins on Monday also acquired center fielder Starling Marte, and there’s a good chance he will be in the lineup Tuesday against the Blue Jays.
Marte, 31, represents a tremendous upgrade for a struggling Marlins outfield. Marte, who has won two Gold Gloves, was a 20-20 man last year — 23 homers and 25 steals. He also had 31 doubles and six triples, and his OPS has remained steady — .845 last year and .827 this season.
Tuesday’s pitching matchup will feature Marlins right-hander Elieser Hernandez (1-0, 3.04 ERA). Toronto had yet to name its starter.
Hernandez has faced the Blue Jays just once in his career, last month. On Aug. 11, he had five strikeouts and just one walk in 5 1/3 innings, but he allowed three runs on four hits.
At Marlins Park, Hernandez is 5-7 with a 3.51 ERA in 33 appearances, including 12 starts.
The Jays enter Tuesday fairly hot, having won four of their past five games. But that lone loss happened on Monday, when they fell 4-3 in 11 innings to the Orioles. Toronto’s Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was thrown out at the plate to end the game on a great relay throw by Orioles shortstop Jose Iglesias.
Toronto is still without star shortstop Bo Bichette, who has a sprained knee. But with Monday’s acquisition of Villar, the Jays will be covered at the position in the short term.
Berti likely will step in for Villar on Miami’s lineup card at second base, although Isan Diaz and Eddy Alvarez are names to keep in mind, although likely not for Tuesday.
The Marlins had lost four in a row before their Monday win.
–Field Level Media