Blue Jays Keep Buying, Acquire Jonathan Villar From Marlins
The Blue Jays continue be aggressive right up to the deadline.
After landing pitchers Taijuan Walker last week and Robbie Ray earlier in the day, the Blue Jays acquired infielder Jonathan Villar from the Marlins in the final hour before the deadline Monday. In return, they sent outfield prospect Griffin Conine—the son of Marlins legend Jeff Conine—to Miami.
The trade marks a return to the AL East for Villar, who spent part of 2018 and all of 2019 with the Orioles.
BLUE JAYS ACQUIRE
Jonathan Villar, SS/2B
The Blue Jays needed a shortstop with Bo Bichette on the injured list with a sprained right knee. Villar has mostly played second base in his career, but he primarily played shortstop this season in Miami and showed he could handle the position well enough. At any position, Villar is a valuable offensive contributor who is a threat both at the plate and on the basepaths. Villar hit .274 with 24 home runs, 73 RBIs and 40 stolen bases last year. He hasn't found his power stroke yet this year, but he's still batting .272 and led the National League with nine stolen bases. The switch-hitter has been roughly equal from both sides of the plate in his career, although this year he's been better batting righthanded. He will be a free agent after the season.
Griffin Conine Locks In Thanks To Swing Changes
Conine used the lost 2020 season to work on changing his swing, and the positive results were evident at instructional league.
Griffin Conine, OF
The son of Mr. Marlin is now a Marlin. Conine was born in south Florida in 1997—the year his dad helped the Marlins win' their first World Series—and grew up in the area before heading to Duke for college. The Blue Jays drafted him in the second round, No. 52 overall, in 2018. Conine ranked as the Blue Jays No. 18 prospect and is a power-hitting outfielder like his dad, although he bats lefthanded. He led the low Class A Midwest League with 22 home runs despite playing only 80 games and led the league by a wide margin with a .576 slugging percentage. Conine has big power, but he also has big holes in his swing that lead to lots of strikeouts. He swings and misses too often on pitches in the zone and will have to fix that as he ascends to higher levels. Conine is a below-average runner with a plus arm in right field. He finished last season at low Class A and still has a few levels to climb before he's ready for the majors.