Giants could still re-sign Kevin Pillar to address center field void
By Dzintars Grinfelds
Despite non-tendering Kevin Pillar, there remains a possibility that he and the San Francisco Giants will reunite in 2020.
The San Francisco Giants opted to non-tendered Kevin Pillar on Dec. 2, thereby allowing him to test the waters of free agency this offseason.
It was a move that shocked fans and Around the Foghorn contributors alike, as several staff writers had predicted Pillar would be offered a contract for the 2020 season.
Despite not starting the season with the Giants, Pillar finished as the team leader in hits (157), doubles (37), home runs (21), RBI (87), runs scored (82) and steals (14) while playing 129 games in center field. All told, he tied for the team lead with 156 games played.
Not only did the Giants part ways with arguably their best hitter, they also left themselves without a bone fide center fielder. Steven Duggar (39 games) and Mike Yastrzemski (7 games) were the only other players to appear in center field in 2019.
Other options on their 40-man roster include Jaylin Davis and Austin Slater, but both have logged far more time at the corner outfield spots in their minor league careers.
While the non-tender allowed Pillar to test free agency, it did not close the door outright on his chapter with the Giants.
He has yet to sign with any team and remains a free agent at the moment. Seeing as how the Giants came out of winter meetings without a replacement center fielder, a reunion could prove to be beneficial for both sides.
While the Giants are looking to bring in young, long-term talent, Pillar is in his prime having turned 31 earlier this month. Without an in-house option that is MLB-ready and a group of big leaguers who are better suited for the corner positions, the Giants could look to Pillar as a stop-gap for a season or two while the front office continues to look for a long-term solution.
It would bring back the team’s best hitter from last season and gives them someone with experience patrolling the expansive outfield of Oracle Park.
Though Pillar is one of the top remaining center fielders in the free-agent pool — other options include Jarrod Dyson and Billy Hamilton — there are few teams looking to add someone at that position.
Aside from the limited number of teams with a need in center field, Pillar also has the trade market to contend with where Jackie Bradley Jr. (Red Sox), Starling Marte (Pirates), and Joc Pederson (Dodgers) are potentially available.
All things considered, it is a tough market for Pillar right now.
So with few options remaining for both Pillar and the Giants as spring training looms, a reunion would be practical and a good faith move by the front office in the aftermath of Madison Bumgarner’s departure.