The big contracts and bold trades get all the attention here in the Hot Stove season but I quite admire when the right little moves are made.
Capturing the speedy, switch-hitting utilityman Jonathan Villar may or may not turn out out to be one of them, but it’s a good act by acting GM Zack Scott. I like when the club can get these young veterans who flame out as regulars at the moment their careers transition because they’re not too old yet to fake it in the event of an injury. It’s probably not the most welcome news for Luis Guillorme (and maybe worse still for Jose Peraza, the reserve shortstop acquired on a minor league deal earlier this offseason) but Villar, the former Astro-Brewer-Oriole-Marlin-Blue Jay, can play 2nd, 3rd, short or the outfield, switch hits, stole as many as 62 bases in a year, and hit as many as 24 home runs as a regular. That’s a pretty good resume.
Villar looks like a single-digit kinda guy to me; I’m slotting him in No. 4. He’s worn 2 most often in his career.
Ranking the Met Jons, Jonathons, and Jonathans
- Matlack (Jonathan Trumpbour, 1971-77)
- Niese (Jonathon Joseph, 2008-16)
- Rauch (Jon Erich, 2012)
- Nunnally (Jonathan Keith, 2000)
- Switzer (Jon Michael, 2009)
- Adkins (Jonathan Scott, 2007)
After six seasons of occasionally brilliant and frequently frustrating work on the mound and the disabled list the Mets finally cut ties with Steven Matz, sending the Long Island lefty to Toronto for three prospects.
The move addresses what looks to be temporary crowding among would-be starting pitchers for the 2021 club but also presumably frees some roster space and cash should the Mets still wish to add another, like the still-available Trevor Bauer who could be different kind of headache.
Nothing against Steve personally here. It was always a lofty order to expect a lefty wearing 32 to perform with Matlackian precision–Matz falls about halfway to all of Matlack’s team records as a pitcher. But after a while it seemed that his local heritage–and ties to the first Omar Minaya regime that drafted him way back in 2009–provided him more opportunity than another guy with his spotty health and track record might get (like Zack Wheeler), and I suspect I wasn’t the only one scratching my head that this deal wasn’t considered any sooner. Matz was about the worst pitcher in the league last season. At any rate we get back three starting pitcher prospects, none of whom seem to have a lot of upside from what I’ve absorbed, but all presumably capable of one day inheriting the mop-up role that Matz appeared to pitched himself into, and they have minor-league options remaining: So Meet Sean Reid-Foley, Yennsy Diaz and Josh Winckowski, Zack Scott’s first gets as “acting” general manager.
Reid-Foley has made a handful of appearances in Toronto wearing 54; Diaz has worked two-thirds off an MLB inning 2 seasons ago (walking 4, wearing no 59); and Winckowski has yet to appear above A ball.
I’d look for 32 to be assigned to incoming lefty Joey Lucchesi.
Meantime, after swinging and missing on more bullpen help and trading an ill-fitted lefty option in Matz, the Mets scooped up journeyman southpaw Aaron Loup. The 33-year-old Loup has pitched for Toronto, Philadelphia, San Diego and last season, Tampa, fairly effectively in the dying age of lefty specialists. Loup, from what I read a laconic Louisiana Cajun, wore 15 last year, 38 in San Diego, 47 with the Phils and 62 with the Jays. Let’s slot him in at, uh, 16 or 18. Why not?