Toronto Blue Jays News

Blue Jays: Looking beyond dealing just the “rental” contracts

TORONTO, ON - MAY 18: Justin Smoak #14 of the Toronto Blue Jays and Josh Donaldson #20 and Luke Maile #21 (Back Left) and Kevin Pillar #11 (Back Right) look on with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning during MLB game action against the Oakland Athletics at Rogers Centre on May 18, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - MAY 18: Justin Smoak #14 of the Toronto Blue Jays and Josh Donaldson #20 and Luke Maile #21 (Back Left) and Kevin Pillar #11 (Back Right) look on with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning during MLB game action against the Oakland Athletics at Rogers Centre on May 18, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /
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TORONTO, ON – MAY 18: Kevin Pillar #11 of the Toronto Blue Jays dives but cannot catch a bloop double hit by Jed Lowrie #8 of the Oakland Athletics in the sixth inning during MLB game action at Rogers Centre on May 18, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON – MAY 18: Kevin Pillar #11 of the Toronto Blue Jays dives but cannot catch a bloop double hit by Jed Lowrie #8 of the Oakland Athletics in the sixth inning during MLB game action at Rogers Centre on May 18, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /

Kevin Pillar

When this season began, I didn’t think Kevin Pillar‘s tenure with the team was going to last all that long. He managed to start the season very hot at the plate in April, just as he did in 2017, but has since slowed down and is back around his career norms in terms of a slash line, hitting .262/.300/.444.

He’s been valuable on both sides of the ball, even through his more recent struggles at the plate. I even think more highly of him now than I did before the season began, and I could see how he could fit in with the Blue Jays for a longer term picture than some of the others I’ll mention in this article.

That said, I don’t know that there will ever be a time that Pillar will be more valuable as a trade asset, and I’d probably make some calls to see what kind of interest there could be. The 29 year old has been worth 1.8 bWAR this year, and has been one of the most consistent performers for the Blue Jays over the last four years. For those of us that have watched him every day, he definitely has hit pitfalls as a player, but he’s been worth 4.9 (2015), 3.5 (2016), 2.8 (2017), and 1.8 year for a total of 13 bWAR since becoming a regular starter three and a half years ago.

For those front offices that look at numbers like that more than more traditional statistics, Pillar could jump out as someone to target, and I think the Blue Jays should consider it if the offer is right. Not because “Superman” isn’t still a worthwhile player to have around, but because he could be expendable with where things are at for this franchise right now.

He’ll be arbitration eligible for the second time this winter and thus getting more expensive, and he’ll also be 30 in January, which means he’ll have to slow down a little at some point. You can’t crash into walls forever and stay on the field, as he’s done for the last number of seasons. I do believe he has a few productive years left in him, but as I said above, I’m not sure that he’ll ever be more valuable on a trade market than he is now, and it might be time to take advantage of that.

With the presence of guys like Anthony Alford, Randal Grichuk, and more that have the ability to play centre field, if the offer is right I would consider dealing Kevin Pillar. If the return isn’t worthwhile, I think you hang on, but I wouldn’t be surprised if someone came calling looking for a Gold Glove calibre defensive centre fielder with speed, and who looks good on paper.

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