On April 2, 2019, the San Francisco Giants acquired Kevin Pillar in a surprise early deal with the Toronto Blue Jays. Let’s check in on both sides of that trade one month later.
The San Francisco Giants acquired Kevin Pillar from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for reliever Derek Law, utility man Alen Hanson and pitching prospect Juan De Paula.
It was a surprising trade more because of when it was made than why it was made.
Outfield defense has been a major issue for the Giants the past few years, and little was done to address that during the offseason, so the trade made perfect sense from a roster standpoint.
However, it’s not often that trades of any significance are made in the opening weeks of a new MLB season.
Now that we’re roughly one month removed from that transaction taking place, let’s take a quick look at how things are shaking out on both ends of the deal.
On the Giants side of things, Pillar provided some memorable moments at the plate immediately following the trade, hitting a grand slam in his sixth game with the team and then adding another four-RBI performance the following night.
Overall, he’s hitting just .223/.255/.398 with five home runs and 18 RBI in 110 plate appearances, which is good for a 74 OPS+ or 26 percent below league-average production.
The defense has been as advertised, though. In fact, he made one of the best catches of the season on Saturday to rob Cincinnati Reds rookie Nick Senzel of a home run:
All told, Pillar has been worth just 0.2 WAR, but he’s provided some memorable moments and can be counted on going forward to continue providing stellar defense in center field.
What about the Blue Jays end of things?
Following the trade, Alen Hanson joined the active roster, while Derek Law was sent to Triple-A.
Hanson hit an uninspired .163/.229/.163 in 48 plate appearances before he was designated for assignment on Friday to make room on the active roster for none other than Law.
Law, 28, made eight appearances for Triple-A Buffalo before getting the call, posting a 1.69 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and a 17-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 10.2 innings.
He’s already made two appearances with the big league club, allowing three hits and two runs (one earned) while walking two and striking out three in 2.2 innings.
With the Blue Jays not expected to contend and Law under team control through 2023, he figures to have a long leash as the team hopes he can regain the stellar late-inning form he showed as a rookie with the Giants in 2016.
Given how the Giants bullpen has performed in the early going, giving up Law in an effort to bolster the outfield still looks like the right move.
Of course, the X-factor in this deal will be the development of De Paula, who now ranks as the No. 28 prospect in the Toronto system, according to MLB.com.
The 21-year-old was sent to Single-A Lansing to start the season where he has posted a 6.38 ERA and 1.75 WHIP in three starts and three relief appearances spanning 24 innings.
The scouting report at MLB.com noted: “De Paula is still in the early stages of his development, succeeding mainly thanks to his fastball.”
As such, the statistical results don’t mean as much at this point as the development of his secondary stuff does. We won’t know for at least a couple more years whether the Giants gave up a valuable asset or not.
For now, the deal to acquire Pillar still looks like a good one by the Blue Jays, as they unloaded two spare parts and a low-level pitching prospect who is far from a lock to contribute.