The Atlanta Braves added some quality outfielder depth last week as Kevin Pillar agreed to a minor league deal with a camp invite. The veteran outfielder is slated to earn $3 million if he makes the major league roster.
Atlanta Braves add key SF Giants outfielder from the 2019 season
There has been a lot of connections between the Giants and Braves in recent seasons. Players like Pablo Sandoval, Alex Dickerson, Joc Pederson, Drew Smyly, and Will Smith have played for both the Giants and Braves recently. Pillar could be the next in line.
Pillar made a name for himself for the Toronto Blue Jays after being selected in the 32nd round of the 2011 draft out of Cal State Dominguez Hills. He was known for his defense and incredible plays in the outfield.
Despite posting strong defensive marks, the 34-year-old outfielder was never recognized with a Gold Glove thanks in part to former Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier, who took home three Gold Glove awards in the late 2010's.
The Giants were eager to upgrade the outfield in 2019 and made a rare early-season trade to acquire Pillar from the Blue Jays in exchange Alen Hanson, Derek Law, and a pitching prospect. The 2019 Giants were not a strong team, but Pillar was one of the few reasons to watch.
The right-handed bat was a stalwart with the Giants as he appeared in 156 games, slashing .264/.293/.442 (92 OPS+) with 21 home runs, 87 RBI, and 82 runs in 628 plate appearances. He led the Giants offense in many counting stats including home runs, RBI, and runs.
In addition to this, he helped to stabilize an outfield that featured Michael Reed and Connor Joe at the corners on Opening Day. Pillar still flashed a good glove and became a popular Giant due in part to his energetic style of play.
Despite this, San Francisco decided to non-tender Pillar after the 2019 season as he was due to earn in the neighborhood of $10 million for the 2020 season. Since then, he has bounced around with the Boston Red Sox, Colorado Rockies, New York Mets, and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Braves have a pretty strong cast in the outfield but could use another veteran presence after Adam Duvall signed with the Red Sox last week. Pillar checks that box while still being able to impact the game in a positive way.