Christian Villanueva is reportedly no longer a San Diego Padre. Dennis Lin and Ken Rosenthal are reporting that the Padres have sold his rights to the Hanshin Tigers of the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization. The move has not been officially announced and terms have not been reported at this time. This move clears yet another 40-man roster spot as the team prepares for today’s 5PM PST roster deadline.
Signed as a minor league free agent in December 2016, Villanueva looked like a breakout star after he hit a ridiculous .321/.411/.692 with eight homers in the first month of the 2018 season. The league adjusted and his bat went into an extended cold streak, and at the same time his defense struggled to adapt to the bright lights of major league baseball. By season’s end, however, the glove settled down and he found a role as a lefty masher, hitting .336/.392/.726 with 14 home runs in 125 plate appearances against southpaws.
Villanueva’s future role with the team seemed in danger late in the year as the team gave Wil Myers an extended tryout at third base and Villanueva’s playing time essentially dried up. The offseason as brought rumors tying the Padres to Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson, Mike Moustakas, and pretty much every other 3B-capable player out there. The team has clearly been searching for an experienced player to end the revolving door at the hot corner in recent years. There’s another hour and a half until the Rule 5 40-man roster deadline, so keep refreshing those feeds!