Yankees could pursue perfect utilityman to replace dropped players

jonathan villar, mets, yankees

The New York Yankees may be prioritizing a top shortstop and starting pitching addition this free agency period, but don’t discount the value of quality depth and reserve pieces.

The Yankees recently traded utilityman Tyler Wade to the Los Angeles Angels for cash considerations and a player to be named in the future. They also released Clint Frazier and Rougned Odor, two players who made an impact in 2021 in their own way. Frazier was unable to play the majority of the season due to migraine issues, while Odor featured in over 100 games. Allowing Wade, Frazier, and Odor to depart means the Yankees will be in the market for more depth pieces.

Wade served a significant purpose with his abilities to play multiple infield positions and outfield spots. Considering general manager Brian Cashman traded him away, he must have adequate replacements in mind.

The Yankees could target one solid free agent player:

One solid free-agent target could be Jonathan Villar, who spent this past season with the New York Mets. Villar has enjoyed a nine-year career, playing with Houston, Milwaukee, Baltimore, and the Mets. He played in 142 games this past season, recording a .249 average, 18 homers, and 42 RBIs. He posted a 26.1% strikeout rate, 9.1% walk right, and a .416 slugging percentage.

Villar is a quality offensive player, posting 75 singles, 18 doubles, and two triples to pair with his double-digit home run total. His best season came back in 2016 with the Brewers, when he hit .285 with 19 homers and 63 RBIs. He also recorded a career-high 11.6% walk rate that season.

He signed a one-year, $3.5 million deal with the Mets for 2021, so the Yankees could likely get him on a cost-efficient deal and maximize his experience at multiple spots. This past season, he played primarily at third base, recording a .933 fielding percentage with 14 errors. While his defense at the spot was lackluster, he’s capable of playing shortstop and second base, where he posted more efficient numbers. Jonathan also has experience in the outfield, but he’s primarily an infielder.

While the 30-year-old switch hitter isn’t known for his defense, he is a quality offensive player that can fill a big hole without much drop-off in the batter’s box. In addition, the Yankees could use a bit more diversity within their depth ranks. Wade offered little power and poor hitting but featured average defense. Villar would be an upgrade without question, it’s just a matter of his price tag and if Cashman is willing to spend a bit on a quality depth piece.

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