The deadline for teams to tender contracts to arbitration eligible players is Friday, December 1st at 7 PM CST. The Milwaukee Brewers will have a few decisions to make by then.
Last year, the Brewers decided not to tender co-NL home run champion Chris Carter a contract. That move surprised a few people. Could Milwaukee make a surprising decision once again and choose to non-tender Jonathan Villar?
To some Brewers fans, non-tendering Villar may not be a surprising move at all given his horrid performance in 2017. He finished the year batting .241/.293/.372 with only 11 homers and 23 steals. His below average defensive numbers also show a lack of value that Villar brought to the table.
In 2016, he hit .285/.369/.457 with 19 homers and a league leading 62 stolen bases. Villar was the ideal lead off hitter for the Milwaukee Brewers. He was expected to fill a similar role this year, but he wasn’t able to replicate his performance.
So we have two ends of the spectrum. We’ve seen that he can be an extremely productive player at the top of the lineup when he’s on. But when he’s off, he becomes a strikeout machine that can’t get on base. What the Brewers have to guess it which year was the fluke. Is he a really good player that had a down year in 2017 or is he a mediocre player that caught lightning in a bottle in 2016? David Stearns is going to have to come up with an answer in the next few days.
How much will Villar cost in 2018?
Villar projects to earn $3 million in arbitration this year. That isn’t an exorbitant amount but $8 million was thought to be too much for 40 homers in a season for Chris Carter by this front office. It all depends on whether or not the Milwaukee Brewers feel the price has gotten too high for a player who’s either hot or cold.
Will Villar get a contract for 2018?
If I had to put money on it, I would bet that Jonathan Villar does get tendered a contract. If he can return to his 2016 form, he would be an absolute bargain to have for years to come. But that’s a major “if” for Milwaukee. On the flip side, if he gets non-tendered and has success in whatever new organization he signs with in free agency, Villar will become the one that got away from Stearns. The risk of losing that potential is too big for the Brewers to just let him go.
They would much rather let him rebuild some value and then trade him somewhere during or after next season. His value is too low right now. If he continues to under-perform, he won’t get a contract next winter.
Villar was a source of stress for many Brewers fans throughout the 2017 season and is on his last chance with Milwaukee. If Villar struggles, he’ll get his release. If he does well, he could become the second baseman of the future. Well, maybe. After his dominant 2016, Villar has earned at least one more opportunity to prove he belongs in the organization.
The Milwaukee Brewers have seven arbitration eligible players this winter to deal with. Some players like Corey Knebel and Jimmy Nelson are easy decisions but Jonathan Villar’s contract isn’t and easy decision.