MLB free agency: Landing spots for Kevin Pillar

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 6: Kevin Pillar #1 of the San Francisco Giants bats during the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on September 6, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. The Giants defeated the Dodgers 5-4. (Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 6: Kevin Pillar #1 of the San Francisco Giants bats during the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on September 6, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. The Giants defeated the Dodgers 5-4. (Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
(Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images) /

Seattle Mariners

The Mariners are another team that is not likely to compete in 2020, but like the Tigers, Seattle still needs to field a competent major league product, and if things break right, they could put reasonably build momentum headed into 2021.

Currently, rumors surrounding the M’s involve dealing their star right fielder Mitch Haniger. The former All-Star had a down year thanks to a gruesome testicular injury last season. He finished with a triple-slash line of .220/.314/.463 in 63 games. He ended up with 15 home runs and four steals, better per-game marks than he’d had in either of the previous two seasons.

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If Haniger is dealt to the Arizona Diamondbacks as MLBTR reported back in December, then the Mariners will need to replace some of that production. The Giants used Kevin Pillar as a middle of the order bat last season, and he flourished. Pillar could realistically replace Haniger while allowing Jerry DiPoto and the M’s to shed salary while adding prospects.

Pillar actually could prove even more valuable than Haniger to the Mariners. Pillar does not have the injury track record of Haniger, as he’s played in 142 games or more in each of the last five seasons. Haniger has been a full-time big leaguer for only the last three seasons, and he’s played in fewer than 100 games in two of those three.

On top of that, Pillar actually has a deeper and stronger track record. Only two years older than Haniger, he’s played in 501 more games. Pillar has five seasons with 14+ steals while Haniger has never reached double digits. Realistically, Haniger’s value is all stemming from his All-star campaign in 2018, which saw the former-D’back hit .286/.366/.493 with 26 home runs and eight steals. Certainly, those numbers are solid, and he played in 157 games that season, too. But this feels a lot more like a flash in the pan than what Pillar has done over a much larger sample size.

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If DiPoto can get enough for Haniger, he should deal him away and take on the underrated Kevin Pillar, even on a one-year ‘prove-it’ deal.