Chicago Cubs bolster middle infield with Jonathan Villar signing

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Cubs now have a crowded middle infield after signing Jonathan Villar, and they are probably out on Carlos Correa.

The Chicago Cubs added depth to their middle infield on Thursday, coming to terms with former Milwaukee Brewer Jonathan Villar.

The 30-year-old spent last season with the New York Mets, posting a .249/.322/.416 slash line with 18 home runs and 42 RBIs to go along with 14 stolen bases. Villar saw a bounceback season in 2021 after posting not-so-great numbers split between the Marlins and Blue Jays in the COVID-shortened 2020 season.

He joins an already crowded infield, with Nico Hoerner, Nick Madrigal, and Andrelton Simmons all vying for playing time at second base and shortstop. As a switch-hitter, Villar gives the Cubs a much-needed left-handed option against right-handed pitchers.

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Throughout his career, Villar has good numbers against righties, owning a .255/.329/.397 slash line. He also gives the Cubs some flexibility in terms of where he can slot into the lineup, given that he’s played at least 330 games at both second and shortstop. He’s also played nearly 150 games at third base.

Patrick Wisdom figures to be the starting third baseman, but Villar provides good depth at the position, with David Bote starting the year on the injured list.

Villar led the league with 62 stolen bases during the 2016 season with the Brewers. While he swiped just 14 bases in 2021, he gives the Cubs some nice speed on the basepaths. He even surprised some of his Mets teammates last year with his sneaky speed.

"“They’ve never seen something like that,” Villard said. “One of the guys, he told me, ‘Are you crazy?’ I said, ‘I don’t care.’ I’m not scared to play baseball.”"

Fangraphs projects Villar to post a .245/.313/.389 (96 wRC+) slash line with 17 home runs and 51 RBIs, similar to his production last year.

With four players for two positions, the Chicago Cubs are now probably out of the Carlos Correa sweepstakes.

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