As someone who follows the Brewers in the National League, I have mixed thoughts about this move, after seeing Villanueva struggle many times for the Crew last season. Villanueva had fallen out of favour in Milwaukee, and was surprisingly demoted to Triple-A midway through the season before being recalled when the rosters expanded in September. That being said, although unannounced, it’s very hard to complain about what the Jays had to give up to get him, as usually players to be named later are usually nothing spectacular. Time will tell.
Carlos Villanueva has shown flashes of brilliance, and a change of scenery could do him well. Add exposure to more players from his native Dominican Republic on the Jays, and Villanueva could be another potential steal by GM Alex Anthopoulos.
For those that don’t know Carlos V, he has a four pitch repertoire: fastball, slider, curveball, and changeup. His changeup is primarily his “out” pitch besides his fastball. He has a tendency of leaving the ball high in the zone at times, and posted his lowest ground ball rate of his career in 2010 (33.8%). A fresh start with a new club, along with the tutelage of the Jays staff, should help address this issue somewhat.
Villanueva had experience as a starter earlier in his career with the Brewers, but went back to his full-time relief role in 2010. He posted a 4.61 ERA in 52.2 innings, to go along with a 8.2 H/9, 3.8 BB/9, and a high 11.4 K/9.
The potential to be a power pitcher is there, and his xFIP of 3.39 suggests that he was the victim of some bad luck in 2010.
He’s entering his second year of arbitration eligibility, and made only $950k last season. He represents yet another low cost, high reward pickup by Anthopoulos, and partly addresses the Jays bullpen right away.