Kevin Pillar signed with the Boston Red Sox on Thursday. He should fit in perfectly as the fourth outfielder in the lineup.
Boston’s new outfielder has plenty of experience in the AL East. For over six years, Pillar patrolled the outfield for the Toronto Blue Jays and was rated just behind Jackie Bradley Jr. as one of the best defensive center fielders in baseball. His numbers have dipped slightly since, but he represents good value and a much-needed right-handed bat for the Red Sox lineup.
Pillar joins the Red Sox a few days after they traded their only right-handed outfielder in Mookie Betts. All three of the projected starters for Boston are lefty’s, including newly acquired Alex Verdugo. Many teams were thrown off of what Pillar can no longer do, but Boston is capitalizing on what he can do.
Despite his dip in on-base percentage and dWAR, Pillar made up for the production in increased power. He hit a career high 21 home runs, and led the Giants in home runs, hits (157), doubles (39) and stolen bases (14) in 2019.
This is a great fourth outfielder option for the Red Sox, as he can step in for Bradley Jr. as a right-handed bat in the lineup against left-handed pitching. Bradley Jr. was only a .213 hitter last season against left-handed pitching, and Pillar hit .278 along with an .823 OPS in 162 at-bats against lefty’s. These two should compliment each other perfectly in the Red Sox lineup.
Along with the bat he provides off the bench, he brings great defense, and strong base running ability. He’s always been able to steal bases effectively. He has 14 or more stolen bases in the last five seasons.
His ability to hit for power and doubles will be magnified when he can hit balls towards the short porch of the Green Monster. He also is a great coverage for when Verdugo’s back issues flare up again in 2020. I wouldn’t be surprised to see if he battles and earns a starting role at one point in the season.
Overall, Pillar and Verdugo can’t replace Betts, but at a good value, the Red Sox have made smart moves to generate value across the 40 man roster, as they look to stay competitive after a disappointing 2019 season.