A veteran defensive first outfielder could be a free agent target for the Pittsburgh Pirates this offseason as the team searches for outfield depth and help.
As the offseason begins, the Pittsburgh Pirates have a question mark in center field. Bryan Reynolds could slide from left field to center field in 2021. Another option would be to give Anthony Alford an extended look in center field in 2021.
Even if the team stays in house, the Pittsburgh Pirates will still need outfield help. If Reynolds slides to center, this opens up a spot in left field. If the Pirates want to give Alford a look in center, then the team will still be searching for a fourth outfielder.
One free agent outfielder that could garner interest from the Pittsburgh Pirates is veteran Kevin Pillar. Prior to the Pirates signing Jarrod Dyson last spring, they were connected to Pillar in free agency.
Pillar went on to sign with the Boston Red Sox, and he was traded to the Colorado Rockies at the MLB trade deadline. With the Red Sox and Rockies, Pillar hit for a .288/.336/.462 slash line to go with a 106 wRC+ in 223 plate appearances. While it came in the shortened 60-game season, it was the best offensive season of Pillar’s career.
What Pillar is known for is his defense. The defensive wizard owns a +56 Defensive Runs Saved in the outfield in his career, including a +39 DRS in center field. Since 2016, Pillar owns a +13 Outs Above Average in the outfield.
Another reason Pillar could be a fit with the Pirates is due to the familiarity Pirate general manager Ben Cherington has with Pillar. When Cherington was the vice-president of baseball operations with the Toronto Blue Jays from 2016 – 2019, Pillar was in Toronto. He spent 2017 and 2018 with the Blue Jays, before being traded to the San Francisco Giants in April 2019.
Adding Pillar would be similar to when the Pirates added Dyson last spring. Pillar is an elite defensive center fielder, and would be a huge defensive upgrade in the outfield in general for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The difference, however, is that Pillar is bigger offensive threat than Dyosn. While Pillar has always struggled to get on base (lifetime .299 on-base percentage), he has always had plus power. Pillar’s lifetime isolate power (ISO) is .162 to go with a solid 9.2% extra base hit rate.
Regardless of what the Pirates plan to do in center field for 2021, they could look to add an outfielder in free agency. Veteran defensive wizard Kevin Pillar is a potential free agent target that would make a lot of sense for the Bucs.