An SF Giants 2019 Willie Mac award winner is on the move. Veteran outfielder Kevin Pillar has joined the Chicago White Sox on a minor league deal, per Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors.
2019 SF Giants Willie Mac award winner joins Chicago White Sox on minors pact
Adams reports that Pillar could earn a salary of $3 million if he is added to the major league roster. The White Sox have spent this winter upgrading the team's defense and they have done well to check that box.
Chicago traded for versatile infielder Nicky Lopez in a seven-player move that sent reliever Aaron Bummer to the Atlanta Braves. They also added Martín Maldonado and Max Stassi behind the dish while signing Paul DeJong to provide reliable defense at shortstop as well.
Similar to Pillar, none of the names play Gold-Glove caliber defense, but many are solidly above average with the glove. While Chicago's defense might be improved, the lineup could leave a bit to be desired, especially with some of the new additions.
Earlier in his career, Pillar was known as an excellent defensive center fielder. In fact, he probably would have a Gold Glove award or two to his name if not for Kevin Kiermaier of the Tampa Bay Rays. Kiermaier has been the best defensive outfielder for the past decade, winning three Gold Glove awards earlier in his career with the Rays and a fourth one in 2023 with the Blue Jays.
Pillar spent the first seven seasons of his career with Toronto before a surprise, early-season trade in 2019 that sent him to San Francisco in exchange for three players. He immediately became a steady presence in the Giants lineup while slashing .264/.293/.442 (92 OPS+) with 21 home runs, 87 RBI, and 82 runs in 628 plate appearances. The right-handed bat led the Giants in most counting stats and took home the 2019 Willie Mac award.
He was under team control through the 2020 season, but the Giants decided to non-tender him after just one season. It was an unpopular move, but made sense given that the cost outweighed his overall value. It is tough to be an everyday player with a .294 career on-base percentage.
This turned out to be the right move as Pillar has bounced around in recent seasons. He has made stops with the Colorado Rockies, Boston Red Sox, New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Atlanta Braves. Oftentimes, he has joined these teams on minor league deals similar to the one he signed with Chicago.
While he does not offer much with the bat at this stage of his career, the 35-year-old outfielder is still a quality defensive outfielder in the corners and capable of playing center field occasionally.