In an offseason chock full of scandal, mega-deals, and trade rumors, there are still impact outfielders left. None are more well-rounded than Kevin Pillar.
31-year old centerfielder Kevin Pillar received a rude farewell from the San Francisco Giants earlier this offseason. Pillar, the team’s leader in plate appearances, home runs (a tie), and steals was non-tendered after making only $5.8 million in 2019. MLBTR projected the 2015 Wilson Defensive Player of the Year to make nearly $10 million in his final year of arbitration.
Pillar, in his first season outside of Toronto, thrived in the pitcher-friendly Oracle Park on the Bay, finishing up the season with a career-high in home runs (21), runs (82), RBI (87), and SLG (.442).
Despite the offensive success, Fangraphs rated his defense as less than stellar. His UZR sagged below 2.3 for the first time since he made his debut back in 2014; he finished the 2019 campaign with a 0.3 UZR, making him the 27th-best outfielder by that metric. Comparing that ranking to his 22nd overall finish in 2018, and 15th overall finish in 2017, and a noticeable downward trend on the defensive end may be materializing.
Even if his centerfield defense is taking a hit, that seems like it could be an easy fix. While putting up a -1.6 UZR/150 in over 1,000 innings in centerfield in 2019 with the Giants, Pillar racked up a 5.4 UZR/150 in his 222 innings in right field. If transitioning to right field lies in Pillar’s near future, that may be limiting his market, but a 20-homer, 15 steals right-handed bat should not still be on the market in mid-January.
Balancing his career year at the plate and his worst defensive season in centerfield may help explain why teams have been reluctant to pick him up this offseason. Even so, there is no way Pillar goes into February without a team.
Based on current rumors surrounding the rest of the outfield market and current roster constructions, here are the three teams that are most likely to add Kevin Pillar in the coming weeks.