The Free Agency of Kevin Pillar

Kevin Pillar
DENVER, CO - JULY 16: Kevin Pillar #1 of the San Francisco Giants makes a diving catch in center field in the eighth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on July 16, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

The Free Agency of Kevin Pillar

After being non-tendered by the San Francisco Giants, Kevin Pillar is now a free agent. After the best season in his major league career, Pillar is still a free agent with Spring Training just around the corner.

Heading into his 31-year-old-season, Pillar has finally developed as an everyday starter. In 156 games with the Giants, Pillar hit .264/.293/.442 with a career-high in HR with 21 and RBIs with 87. This while playing at the toughest hitter’s ballpark in the majors for half the season. Also worth noting that he led the Giants in hits, HR, and RBIs. For prospective teams, Pillar can also provide speed, as he stole 14 bases last season.

In 2019 Pillar earned $5.8 million dollars. The San Francisco Giants may have felt that a similar price in 2020 is too high. As the Giants continue to get younger, they have decided it would be better to non-tender Kevin Pillar.

The Options

Toronto Blue Jays

Although the Toronto Blue Jays traded Pillar to the San Francisco Giants back in 2019, they still have an issue in centerfield. Although the Blue Jays have spent a lot of money in free agency building the 2020 team, they likely need another starting outfielder of Pillar’s caliber. While the starting outfield consists of Randal Grichuk, Teoscar Hernandez and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. adding Pillar will give the Blue Jays an outfielder they can trust and an instant fan favorite.

Arizona Diamondbacks

The Arizona Diamondbacks were mentioned by MLB Insider Jon Morosi. This could be as both Ketel Marte is listed as the team’s starting second baseman and center fielder. While he is capable of playing both, signing Pillar would assume Marte starts at second base. Pillar comes with experience in the National League West, playing for the rival Giants in 2019. Not to mention, he would join former teammate Madison Bumgarner if he signs with Arizona.

Texas Rangers

The Texas Rangers were also another team named by Jon Morosi. This is likely in light of the Rangers sending outfielder Delino DeShields to the Cleveland Indians for starting pitcher Corey Kluber. The Rangers are looking to go the playoffs for the first time since 2016. Hopefully acquiring Kevin Pillar would get them into the playoffs in their first season at Globe Life Field.

Pittsburgh Pirates

One of the most prominent rumors is surrounding the potential trade of star outfielder Starling Marte. If the Pirates were to trade Marte, Pillar could make an adequate replacement. The Pittsburgh Pirates have only signed Luke Maile in free agency this off-season, so there is room in the payroll to get Pillar. The Pirates have made moves in the front office this off-season; Pillar can be part of the changing paradigm surrounding this team.

Colorado Rockies

The Colorado Rockies are at an interesting point in their franchise. While they were poised to make the postseason in 2019, they finished the season with a record of 71-91. Currently, in their outfield, the Rockies have Charlie Blackmon in right field, Ian Desmond in left field and Raimel Tapia in center field. Tapia had an okay season at the plate, but is a defensive liability in the outfield. Pillar had his best season in 2019 while playing at one of the least-friendly hitter’s ballparks, imagine what he could do in 2020 at the best hitter’s ballpark.

Wild Card Pick: New York Mets

Similar to the Pirates, one of the biggest rumors surrounding the New York Mets is a possible trade of center fielder Brandon Nimmo. If Nimmo were to get traded, Pillar could be a good fit in Queens. The Mets are hoping to make the playoffs in 2020 and Pillar could fill a potential opening in center field.

4 COMMENTS

  1. I would love to see Kevin polar come home I think he had some good years in Toronto my wife and I would love to see him in that jays uniform never should have taken it off and management never should have let him go

  2. I think the biggest issues with Pillar are:
    1) His defense has deteriorated quickly over the past few years. He used to be great; Now he’s just average.
    2) His plate discipline has never improved. He swings way more often than he should and rarely walks. He simply doesn’t get on base enough, especially given his baserunning abilities.

    But he still hits well enough to be a starting CF somewhere…. just not in Toronto. I don’t see management reversing course less than 10 months after trading him. He played very well in SF, but he’s not a better player now than he was last year when the was traded. If anything, the issues above (defense, plate disciple) have gotten worse in the past year.

  3. With a .280 OBP and .681 OPS vs. RHs, it is not accurate to say Pillar had his best season. He played in so many games because the Giants had no one better, despite efforts at times that seemed desperate to find someone they could start vs. RHs. I like Pillar but as someone else noted above, his defense has slipped to very good, no longer great, and he is at best a part-time player. The best he can hope for is a minor-league make-good contract with an invitation to spring training from a team that will be able to use him in a part-time role that will prolong his career.

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