Villar has consistently hit leadoff in the Marlins' early spring contests, a likely indication of the regular-season batting order, Jordan McPherson of The Miami Herald reports. He's been followed in the lineup by Brian Anderson, Corey Dickerson and Jesus Aguilar. While Villar has been playing a new position in center field for a new team this spring, hitting at the top of the order should be very familiar for the 28-year-old -- over half of his 3,002 career plate appearances have come from the leadoff spot.
Villar saw his first spring action in center field Thursday, Jordan McPherson of The Miami Herald reports. He got the start and played four innings, with his only defensive work coming on a lazy flyball. "It was my first day," Villar said. "Maybe another day, I'll play more innings and get more opportunities to play and I'll feel more comfortable." Villar, a middle infielder for nearly his entire big-league career coming into 2020, had slotted in at DH in his prior three spring appearances as the Marlins tried to make sure he was ready for the change in assignment. Wherever he plays, Miami's offense could certainly use a player who hit 24 homers and stole 40 bases with a .792 OPS last season.
Villar is expected to be the Marlins' Opening Day center fielder, Andersen Pickard of MLB Daily Dish reports. Reports from earlier in the offseason indicated Villar would get some work in the outfield, but it now sounds as though that will be his primary home in 2020, provided he acquits himself well in camp. Villar has started just eight career games in the outfield, but he's an athletic player whose skills should theoretically translate to the position. Expect Villar to pick up an extra spot of positional eligibility early in the season if the Marlins stick with the plan.
Villar is expected to play some center field this season, Craig Mish of FNTSY Sports Radio reports. Villar has eight career starts in the outfield, though the most recent ones came in 2017. His middle-infield defense has graded out fairly poorly throughout his career, so the outfield may end up being his long-term home in the latter part of his career. If he ends up playing there frequently this season, he could help fantasy owners with some extra positional eligibility, though the Marlins' plans for him aren't clear yet.
Villar agreed to a one-year, $8.2 million deal with the Marlins on Friday, avoiding arbitration, Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports. The Marlins were willing to do what the Orioles were not: reward Villar for his big 2019 season. He gets a healthy raise from the $4.83 million he was awarded last offseason. Villar will head to the open market after this year.