Elias on trading Villar: 'We're going to miss him, but this is the right move' - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Elias on trading Villar: ‘We’re going to miss him, but this is the right move’

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

About three or four hours ahead of Monday’s 8 p.m. deadline for offering 2020 contracts, the Orioles began getting some interest in Jonathan Villar. With time running out, they traded Villar to the Miami Marlins.

Executive Vice President/General Manager Mike Elias is happy about his team’s acquisition of 23-year-old left-hander Easton Lucas for Villar but sad to see the infielder go.

“He was a tremendously exciting player for us,” Elias said in a conference call. “Played in every single game. We’ve all seen the numbers he put up. He was a joy to have … It’s hard to let him go, but we’ve got to keep our eye on our strategic objectives, which prioritize the future right now.”

This is the second trade Elias has made of an Oriole veteran in the last five months. In July, he traded starter Andrew Cashner to the Boston Red Sox for two teenaged Dominican Summer League players. Elias contends that the market for players about to be non-tendered isn’t as robust as it once was.

“We’re pleased that we came away with a pitcher that we like,” he said.

Lucas, a 14th-round draft pick in 2019, had a 3.63 ERA in 13 games in Rookie League and Short-Season ball, striking out 41 and walking nine in 34 2/3 innings.

Elias said Lucas throws 89-92 mph and has “two distinct breaking balls,” and a changeup that is effective against right-handed hitters. “He’s somebody that could project as a back-end starter for us, possibly with good development.”

The Orioles could have offered a contract to Villar, which according to MLBTradeRumors.com could have cost the Orioles $10.4 million in arbitration, but they decided to use that money in other ways.

“I was hopeful that we would be able to return a net that we liked given that we were motivated to trade him,” Elias said. “His return was such that it made sense to make that move right now rather than carry forward into the arbitration process.”


The Orioles didn’t trade Villar last July and could have held on to him and tried to move him next July, but they didn’t.

“We’re going to miss to him, but this is the right move for us on a number of levels,” Elias said.

“As much as we all enjoyed Jonathan and how well he played this year, with where he was in his career, and coming up against free agency, with the salary range he was getting into, we felt like there are players that have a little bit more long-term possibility with our organization and where it’s going.”

There was a report late last week that the Orioles were getting closer to a deal for starting pitcher Dylan Bundy, but he wasn’t traded.

“Dylan’s a really good starting pitcher,” Elias said. “He had a good year for us … There are a lot of teams looking for pitching right now, and he’s a popular guy in that respect. We have a lot of conversations about our players on the major league roster. That’s just where we’re at right now as an organization and his is a name I hear often.

“Until a trade is done or if it ever comes, he’s a part of our team, a part of our rotation, and we look forward to seeing him in Sarasota.”

The Orioles need to replace Villar’s production — .274 average, 24 home runs, 73 RBIs, 40 steals — in the middle infield by trade or free agent signings. In addition to that, Elias said that the team will be looking for additional candidates for the starting rotation during next week’s Winter Meetings in San Diego.

“Whether any of that comes on major league contracts or minor league contracts is yet to be seen,” Elias said.

The Orioles also are looking for a fourth catcher to supplement Pedro Severino, Chance Sisco and Austin Wynns. Minor league deals for outfielders and corner infielders are also possible.

Elias acknowledged that the Orioles don’t have major league ready candidates for the middle infield but mentioned Rylan Bannon, who finished the season at Triple-A Norfolk, and Mason McCoy, who ended 2019 with Double-A Bowie, as future possibilities.

Bannon is primarily a third basema, but plays second. McCoy is mainly a shortstop.

On Monday, the Orioles offered contracts to five arbitration-eligible players: infielder Hanser Alberto, pitchers Bundy, Miguel Castro and Mychal Givens and rightfielder/first baseman Trey Mancini. They signed reliever Richard Bleier to a reported one-year, $915,000 contract.

“We think it was a very positive period for our team and our long-term objectives,” Elias said. “We have put ourselves in good position to bring a lot of our growing young core players back next year but also having added to our future and our minor league stockpile, which is a big part of our future.”

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB



  1. Fareastern89

    December 3, 2019 at 7:32 am

    I’m impressed that Elias managed to pull off any deal for Villar. For those worried about future draft position, this could be a win-win: lowering the O’s win total while boosting the Marlins’.

    • Orial

      December 3, 2019 at 8:22 am

      I like your adverse/sarcastic theory.

  2. Orial

    December 3, 2019 at 8:23 am

    Elias says–“we can now use that $10.4 million in other ways”. Hmmm. Wonder what that means?

    • Camden Brooks

      December 3, 2019 at 8:30 am

      Nice way of saying it made no sense to pay $10.4 million to keep Villar.

  3. Boog Robinson Robinson

    December 3, 2019 at 8:57 am

    “We’re going to miss him”? “It’s hard to let him go ..” Yeah right Mike. I bet you had a hard time falling to sleep last night crying in your latte and all.

    I’m starting to think this guy is a snake in the grass. Which come to think about it, may not necessarily be a bad thing in terms of a GMs

    But still … I think I’d prefer a straight shooter over a bull-shooter.

    • willmiranda

      December 3, 2019 at 10:16 am

      I don’t know about the snake in the grass, but I’ll buy into crocodile tears. I read elsewhere that Elias boasted that
      they really liked the new guy in the draft. So, how did he last until the fourteenth round? Were the O’s first fourteen choices –I believe they had the first choice in every round– all better than he? So far, returns on Elias’ trades have just been face-savers for salary dumps. As for what he will do with the $10M, I say put it into hiring more suits: he’s building a bureaucracy, not a baseball team. We’re always told the process will take a long time because bureaucracies are forever, the ideal of job security. Meanwhile, Vaya con Dios, Jonathan!

  4. mlbbirdfan

    December 3, 2019 at 10:19 am

    Patience folks. Patience. When we win the World Series in 2025 or ‘26, you’ll all be happy campers. The Astros built for 7 years. PS: I hope we build without cheating. I like Mike Elias!

  5. CalsPals

    December 3, 2019 at 10:44 am

    Get rid of one Jonathan, sign the original…go O’s…

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      December 3, 2019 at 11:52 am

      I’d like to 2nd that.

    • Borg

      December 3, 2019 at 5:09 pm

      By 2026 there won’t be anyone left watching. Do you really think fans will watch a 100 loss team for seven more years? With that kind of thinking, you could be in line for a PR job with the Orioles.

  6. OriolesNumber1Fan

    December 3, 2019 at 10:59 am

    mlbbirdfan – I agree with you 100 % but hoping to show a playoff team maybe by 22 or 23! I like Elias as well. Was a good trade for Villar for the future. This is what Mike Elias is all about, building the Orioles into a dominant team for years to come. Just not next year which a lot of these bloggers are looking for and won’t find.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      December 3, 2019 at 11:57 am

      You know #1, I don’t think I’ve ever read one of us ‘bloggers’ wishing for a dominant team next year. Not one. I have to admit that your clairvoyance in determining that this is a good trade ‘for the future’ is rather impressive. Got any good stock tips?

      • OriolesNumber1Fan

        December 3, 2019 at 3:29 pm

        If you’re not wishing for a dominate team next year, then why all the constant crying and bellyaching? Yeah, I got one good one you can bet on. You’ll be crying on this site for as long as you keep typing on it!!!

    • CalsPals

      December 3, 2019 at 6:20 pm

      Watch it Boog, totally agree, can’t remember anyone saying we want a dominant team, play ALL your best, at least make it look like your trying to field a major league team, a better team…maybe they’ll use the 10.4 million for high tech cameras & analytical stuff to steal signs & give the appearance of getting better…lmao…go O’s….

    • Camden Brooks

      December 3, 2019 at 6:55 pm

      Sorry BRR and Cal, you two and a few others spend most of your time here bashing Oriole management and their decisions, always implying you know best. You don’t. A rebuild isn’t tanking, and it takes time and patience, which you clearly don’t have. If the Orioles’ best players aren’t ready for the bigs, then they stay in the minors until they are. You can probably tell, I’m tired of listening to your same old complaints from one post to the next. Give it a rest.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        December 3, 2019 at 9:59 pm

        CB .. you’re very correct when you state that “a rebuild isn’t tanking”. So why then does the team keep tanking?

        I defy you do show me ONE post where I complained about rebuilding.


        December 4, 2019 at 8:17 am

        You don’t have to TANK to rebuild. The Braves never lost more than 97 in their rebuild and they signed Markakis at the beginning of the rebuild to provide a veteran presence. And picked up some decent cheap pitchers to anchor the rotation. They never picked up waiver wire trash like the Boy Genius does.
        And how good are the Braves now?

        I wish all the Elias tushie kissers (like you) would give it a rest.

    • CalsPals

      December 3, 2019 at 8:48 pm

      If I’m not mistaken, I don’t remember asking your opinion, why do some of you guys (assumption) continue to knock others opinions, while everything you say is gospel, people share ideas, I don’t believe either of us have ever whined to you, you don’t need to listen (read), don’t read it, that is laughable…go O’s…

    • Camden Brooks

      December 3, 2019 at 9:37 pm

      Cals, everything you just wrote applies so much more to you than me. Nobody ever asked for your opinion did they, yet you give it 10x’s more than me, and it is usually negative and condescending. You whine/complain/criticize constantly, while implying you could run this team better than anyone on the planet. YOU don’t need to listen/read either, but I would suggest looking in the mirror.

    • CalsPals

      December 4, 2019 at 9:09 am

      You’re a moron, EVERYTHING on her is opinion, I NEVER commented on your opinion, you commented on mine…tough to have a battle of white w/unarmed people…end of conversation…go O’s…

  7. Hallbe62

    December 3, 2019 at 11:26 am

    I wonder how PA’s bottom line has fared during this rebuild. We see the salary dumping & drop in attendance (revenue ⬇). TV revenue ? MASN settlement ?

    A full blown rebuild obviously hurts the teams results on the field. But is there a corresponding “hurt” in PA’s wallet ?

    Is he feeling the pain too ?

  8. Bancells Moustache

    December 3, 2019 at 2:21 pm

    Elias is just playing within the rules he’s been given. The Players Union needs to demand an NBA style salary floor. That’s the only solution to a third of the league actively NOT trying to win games. It’ll be ugly, and may cause a stoppage, but it needs to happen.

    • ClayDal

      December 3, 2019 at 3:23 pm

      The NBA also has a salary cap. Players would never go for that. As far as forcing the Orioles ( or any team for that matter) to spend money, what happens if players don’t want to come here? Do you grossly overpay people just to stay over the threshold? It wouldn’t help the team in the short term, and would cost them in the long term. They lost 108 games with Villar. They can lose 108 games without him

  9. J Guy

    December 3, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    Why is Stevie not getting a shot at second

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      December 4, 2019 at 8:21 am

      Who says he’s not?

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