Kevin Pillar has earned his spot within Red Sox Nation
When the Red Sox signed Kevin Pillar this offseason I can admit that I wasn’t shouting from the rooftop about it. Having seen him for so many years with the Blue Jays I knew how good he was but it’s different when a player suits up in your team’s uniform. We’re just about a week into the 2020 season and he’s already beloved by Red Sox Nation.
It didn’t take long for Pillar to earn the adoration of the Fenway Faithful as he made a leaping catch for the first out on Opening Day. From that moment on he was as good as gold with the fans. Not only has Pillar been crushing things in the outfield but he’s been an absolute menace to opposing pitchers.
Through five games, he’s got an insane .583/.583/1.167/ line with 5 RBI and a homer. At this point in the season, he’s the only consistent player for the Red Sox, well, and Jackie Bradley Jr. If 2020 wasn’t weird enough as it is, Pillar and JBJ are Boston’s biggest offensive threats right now. And speaking of JBJ, that brings me to the soon to be issue at hand, he’s heading for free agency.
Pillar is the solution after Bradley for the Red Sox
JBJ will be a free agent when this season ends and it’s hard to see the Red Sox bringing him back for another run. Considering the team has been trying to trade the centerfielder for the last three or four years, this may be their opportunity to get rid of him. Why they would want to do that, I’ll never know. Yeah, his bat may not always be the hottest but his glove never misses and that’s where his best value is.
Jackie was set to make $11M in 2020 before the world went to hell courtesy of the coronavirus. With how well he’s playing to this point in the campaign Jackie may be able to command a similar salary or higher ahead fo 2021, which may scare the Red Sox off. This is where Pillar comes back into the picture. His 2020 wage was set at $4.25 ahead of the pandemic, and I can’t imagine it being too much higher going forward.
The other option will be top prospect Jarren Duran, but he’s not quite ready for the big leagues just yet. He’s definitely going to be the centerfielder of the future but he still needs to develop a bit more ahead of a callup. With the wonky way that 2020 is playing out, especially with the awful start Boston is having, we may see him at Fenway this year.
For me though, Pillar is the best way to go for the Red Sox. It doesn’t have to be anything long-term but just enough to buy Duran the time that he needs. Something in the ballpark of 2-years/$10M would be perfect for both sides. A solid raise for Pillar, who’s more than earned it already, and a reliable body in the outfield to play alongside Andrew Benintendi and Alex Verdugo.
Age is going to be a factor for both players as JBJ is 30 and Pillar 31, and yet each moves around better in the outfield than a lot of players we see on a nightly basis. I really do think it comes down to the financials and Chaim Bloom is the man with the pen and the checkbook. If Pillar can keep his level of play close to what we’ve seen so far, I think he’ll be seeing a new deal to stay with the Red Sox. Also having another veteran in the clubhouse as the majority of the team continues to get younger would work wonders for the next manager of the club.
None of us know what the future of the league will look like, especially in the financial realm. Will there be fans in 2020? Highly doubtful. Hell, will there even be fans in 2021? If the country can’t get the coronavirus under control, I don’t see fans in the stands any time soon.
As we recently saw with Mookie Betts, there’s still plenty of money there but the pockets may not be as deep as they were last year. With how strict Boston was about cutting the salary for 2020, I imagine Bloom is going to do as much bargain hunting as he can, once again shining the light on Pillar.
Kevin Pillar has been a great addition to the Red Sox and the team would be wise to sign him to a deal that keeps him in Boston for the next few years. The future looks bright with Jarren Duran waiting in the wings but the youngster could use a few more years before he’s called up. With his hot bat and stellar defense, Pillar is the best choice for centerfield after 2020, and keeping him at Fenway Park should be a high priority for the team.