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Will Jonathan Villar Be Back With Orioles In 2020?

September 27, 2019
Jonathan Villar has been an "Iron Man" for the Orioles this season.

But will he get an encore performance in 2020?

Villar, 28, has appeared in all 159 of the Orioles' games this season. Only four other players -- Whit Merrifield and Jorge Soler (Kansas City Royals), Marcus Semien (Oakland Athletics) and Starlin Castro (Miami Marlins) -- have a chance to appear in all 162 games in 2019. 

"In this grind that we go through for six months, keeps his body in great shape and he's had a really good year," manager Brandon Hyde said about Villar. "That is pretty rare to have a guy play every day for six months. He's made it to 159 and I'm sure he's going to want to be in there the last three, so we'll see."

Entering the final weekend series against the Red Sox, Villar is slashing .275/.340/.456 with 71 RBIs and 109 runs, the most since Brian Roberts (110) in 2009. He also has hit 24 home runs and stole 34 bases, joining Manny Machado, Brady Anderson and Paul Blair in the Orioles' all-time "20-20 Club."

Although Villar is under team control through next season, he is eligible for arbitration. That means Villar will likely be getting a sizeable increase from his current $4.83 million salary. 

The question is whether the rebuilding Orioles will want to pay that much money for a second baseman, non-tender him or possibly seek a trade this offseason.

There was speculation that Villar was going to be dealt at this year's trade deadline, but the Orioles decided his value outweighed any offers. Villar was relieved he was able to stay in Baltimore, but the future is uncertain. 

"I'm happy," said Villar, who was acquired by the Orioles last season from the Milwaikee Brewers with Jean Carmona and Luis Ortiz for Jonathan Schoop. "Going to a new team, you are starting again. I'm happy because this team wanted me here. I was a little bit nervous [about the trade deadline]. I couldn't sleep and was looking at my phone all the time waiting for one call. Everyone told me there was a 99 percent chance to get traded. I was looking at my phone all the time to see if I got traded."

"If you go to a new team, it's the same game," he said. "Only difference is starting to talk to everybody. I feel happy here because Brandon all the time, they talk to me too, 'Play how you do. Play happy. Steal bases.' That's my game."

Orioles general manager Mike Elias is keeping his cards close to his vest about the team's potential offseason moves. However, Elias doesn't expect the Orioles to challenge for a playoff spot in 2020, the second year of the massive rebuilding project.

"I think we're going to be in the strategic mode of what I said in the beginning this year, improving the overall talent level in the organization," Elias said during the team's last home series of the season against the Seattle Mariners. "That's going to be priority No. 1. What comes after that is secondary. I hope that we keep kind of improving in a linear way, but that's not always the case with these, but that's my hope."

Will Villar be part of that plan?

Elias will answer that question in the question in the coming months.

In the meantime, Villar will look for a strong finish to one of the most productive seasons of his seven-year career.

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox