Blue Jays: Plenty of veterans with something to prove
Can he finally take a step forward with the bat?- Kevin Pillar
Much like Morales, Kevin Pillar wasn’t necessarily awful last year, he just didn’t live up to the hopes that either the team or the fan base had for him. He still earned 2.8 bWAR, and provided plenty of value on defence, but he once again struggled to bring a consistent offensive contribution to the table, something that’s been a common theme for him throughout his career.
There are several factors working against “Superman” and his future with the Blue Jays. First, he’ll be 29 next season and while that’s still relatively young, he hasn’t been very kind to his body throughout his young career. He’s routinely crashed into walls and sacrificed himself in order to provide highlight reel entertainment, but it could come at a cost. In fact, some defensive metrics showed that he slowed a little last year, which is a bit of a concern for someone who derives so much of their value from the glove.
There’s also the fact that the Blue Jays had a ton of talent waiting in the minor league wings, and most of the near-MLB ready players are capable of manning centre field. Anthony Alford was listed as #47 and #60 on the MLB Pipeline and Baseball America lists respectively, and should be ready to make the leap to the big leagues at some point in 2018. Teoscar Hernandez was excellent in a September call-up for as well, and is a natural centre fielder. Add in a others like Dalton Pompey, and Randal Grichuk’s experience in centre field, and suddenly Pillar isn’t needed as much as he used to be.
He’ll need to show that he can contribute on offence, and he’ll likely need to do it in the first half of the season, otherwise there could be a change in the Blue Jays’ outfield. When you consider that he’s now on his first seven figure contract as well, he’s going to have to pull his weight on both sides of the ball in order to keep his job for the long term. Baseball can be cruel that way.