It is good to have options but that can lead to tough decisions down the road. In the case of the SF Giants, David Villar's loud bat recently might create a tough situation at third base for next season.
Third baseman David Villar might create a tough decision for the SF Giants
The Giants hold a $13 million team option for 2023 on longtime third baseman Evan Longoria. This includes a $5 million buyout. In terms of accounting, the relevant cost here is $8 million. The Giants will commit at least $5 million to Longoria for 2023 regardless of the decision they make.
However, if they exercise his option, then he will earn $13 million for 2023, or $8 million above the minimum amount that they would owe to him. For $8 million, Longoria remains a solid option. In 241 plate appearances, the 15-year veteran has slashed .249/.328/.469 (123 wRC+) with 12 home runs, 30 RBI, and 29 runs scored.
This is excellent production from any third baseman. That said, Longoria has only appeared in 73 games this season and durability issues have been a trend that has affected him in recent years. If the Giants exercise his team option, they will keep him under contract through his age-37 season. Durability issues tend to get worse as a player ages, so while his production has been good, it is tough to pencil him in for 120 games next season.
This is going to be a tough decision for the Giants, but the decision is becoming more complicated. The Giants are motivated to give David Villar an extended look in September, which could be an indication for which direction they might go with Longoria.
If Villar struggles, Longoria would be a safe fallback option for 2023. If the third base prospect produces, then buying out Longoria's option becomes more realistic. The risk in this is that the Giants could be basing their evaluation on how Villar performs in the final month of the season, so it would be a small sample.
To his credit, Villar has performed well since being recalled at the beginning of the month. The 25-year-old has record six hits, including three home runs, in 15 at-bats in six games this month. That is too small of a sample to truly get excited, but he just finished a series against the Los Angeles Dodgers in which he registered six hits in eight at-bats.
All three of his home runs since being recalled came in that Dodgers series and all three went to right-center field. Using the entire field has been a strength for Villar over the past couple of seasons and that was on display against the Dodgers.
It does not look like the right-handed bat tweaked his mechanics when he was in Triple-A. Rather, it appears like he is more aggressive at the plate, recording jus one walk in his last six games. Working the count and seeing a lot of pitches is great, but it can border on passive and that is what Villar looked like earlier in the year.
His audition will run through September but the early returns have been promising. Villar has been the organization's best power hitter over the past couple of seasons and he is beginning to flash some of that power in a Giants uniform. This could still be an exciting month for Giants fans.