The Kevin Pillar trade sees the Red Sox outfield lose its depth.
In a season where so much is changing for the Boston Red Sox, more of the same just keeps on coming. Before Monday’s trade deadline came and went, the Sox made a number of moves that were pretty much expected to happen. One was the deal that saw Kevin Pillar being moved to the Colorado Rockies.
This is a trade that looked likely to happen in August, as the veteran hit .274 with 13 RBI over his thirty games with the Red Sox this season. Pillar came in as a free agent signing prior to the start of 2020 and looked to be drawing attention from a number of teams for his performances at the plate, as well as his athletic diving plays in the outfield. So, the Rockies, who’re looking to make a postseason push, get a good piece.
For Boston, it’s not a deal that’s going to change the future of this franchise, unlike another outfielder trade that happened earlier this year. What it does do right now is leave the roster pretty thin in terms of its outfield position players. Currently, the Sox have Jackie Bradley Jr. and Alex Verdugo, an injured Andrew Benintendi, and then J.D. Martinez – who you only really want to play out there in an emergency.
This move has brought attention to perhaps bringing minor leaguer Jarren Duran into the fold, who was assigned to the Red Sox’s alternate training site from Double-A back in July. Duran’s proved himself to be a solid hitter at the minor league level over the past years, and this is definitely a route the Sox should take, especially now when there’s nothing on the line for the rest of this shortened season.
Lin’s hitting .148 this year, albeit over a minuscule sample size of 27 at-bats, but he hasn’t proved himself to be a consistent hitter over the last couple of years, at least in the short time he’s spent in the majors. This just doesn’t seem to be a long-term solution.
Munoz has a larger sample size, as he played significant time with the St Louis Cardinals in 2018 and 2019. Over those two seasons, he hit .273 and showed ability to get on base even without hot hitting, with an OBP of .350 in 2018. On a minor league contract, he’s the type of guy you want on your bench, and he could provide the depth the Sox need next year.
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The main question going forward surrounds the starting trio in the outfield. Right now, when fully fit, Benintendi-Bradley Jr- Verdugo seems a pretty great outfield. It’s been a tough year for Benintendi with the woes at the plate and now the injury, but for $6.6 million in 2021, he’s a player the Sox front office should want to keep. His upside still remains attractive and over a full season, his confidence will return.
There was noise surrounding a potential use of Verdugo’s hot-hitting in his early days with the Sox to get something for him before the deadline. We should be extremely thankful that nothing ever fluctuated from that, as he’s one of the only players who seems like himself this year.
Verdugo, who’s slashing .310/.365/.524 on the year, has proved to be a shining light for Sox fans in the aftermath of the Mookie Betts deal, as well as during a torrid season to watch this team. He’s certainly looked like a player who’s capable of taking over things at that left-field spot for years to come, and hopefully, this happens.
The Red Sox are in a situation to keep these two in Boston. The one they might not be is Bradley Jr. Jackie will become an unrestricted free agent following the current season, and as a high earner who got paid $11 million this season, this conservative front office won’t jump at the chance to pay him what he deserves.
Jackie’s had his slumps at the plate over his Red Sox career, but he’s come up in big moments – see the 2018 ALCS. Big moments won’t seem to matter too much in the near future, as it doesn’t look like this team will be competing the same way they were just two years ago.
What is a ridiculous and irreplaceable loss though is JBJ’s defense. He really is superman out in Fenway’s center field and no wonder he comes at a high price. It just doesn’t seem like a price Chaim Bloom will be willing to pay considering the moves that he did or didn’t make over this past year.
Without Benintendi for now, and perhaps the rest of this season, the Red Sox will have to make do with a makeshift outfield, and that doesn’t matter all that much. What does matter is the future of this franchise. The luxury-tax has now been reset, which is what the front office was counting on happening. Next, will come big decisions for them to make in order for this past season to just become a down-year and not what the next ten years holds.