The New York Mets added to a center field mix that is light on reliable options by signing a former SF Giants center fielder.
Former SF Giants center field Kevin Pillar has signed a one-year, $3.6 million deal with the New York Mets, Jon Heyman of MLB Network confirms. This deal includes an option for a second year that is a little creative:
Pillar will compete for at-bats against a couple of veteran outfielders in Albert Almora Jr. and Guillermo Heredia as well as well-regarded prospect Khalil Lee. Given his status and track record, Pillar should see the bulk of the playing time in center field.
New York Mets sign former SF Giants center fielder
The Mets had been lightly connected to Jackie Bradley Jr. for much of this offseason, but the Pillar addition likely takes them out of the running.
Pillar had spent the majority of his career with the Toronto Blue Jays before a surprise early-season trade sent him to San Francisco in 2019 in exchange for Juan De Paula, Derek Law, and Alen Hanson.
Despite not being known for his bat, Pillar led the Giants in several key offensive categories including hits (157), RBI (87), and runs (82). His 21 home runs tied Mike Yastrzemski for the team lead as well. This came with a rough 2.8 percent walk rate and a .293 on-base percentage that really limited his overall offensive value.
On defense, Pillar had a reputation as one of the premier center field gloves. That said, the defensive metrics had begun to show regression in the years leading up the trade. However, he was still a quality center field with the Giants (1 OAA, -4 DRS, 0.3 UZR) in 2019.
The Giants decided to non-tender Pillar following the 2019 season thereby making him a free agent where he signed with the Boston Red Sox on a one-year, $4.5 million pact. However, his stay was short-lived as he was shipped in a midseason trade to the Colorado Rockies in exchange for a prospect.
In total, the right-handed bat slashed .288/.336/.462 (107 OPS+) with six home runs and 26 RBI across 223 plate appearances with the Red Sox and Rockies. The batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage were all career-highs for the 32-year-old. Interestingly, he posted a 5.8 percent walk rate, which was also a career-high.
Pillar joins a Mets team that is expected to contend in 2021. The SF Giants face off against New York twice in August, so they will get a chance to see Pillar return again to Oracle Park in just a few months.