Blue Jays: Outfield depth makes Kevin Pillar expendable

The depth and unexpected emergence of the Toronto Blue Jays young outfielders make Kevin Pillar expendable and a possible trade chip heading into the offseason.

The man affectionately tabbed “Superman” for his heroic efforts in centrefield could soon find himself playing superhero for another team. There is a distinct possibility the Jays could gauge the trade market for Kevin Pillar this offseason as the team would be dealing from an area of strength.

If Pillar is moved, the Jays could slide Randal Grichuk over to replace K.P and then fill the corners with the likes of Billy Mckinney, Teoscar Hernandez, Anthony Alford, Dwight Smith Jr. Brandon Drury or even Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Prospect Cavan Biggio is also honing his craft in the Arizona Fall League to be an outfielder, so he could come into the picture sooner than later as well if he continues to hit at his current pace.

Pillar continues to struggle offensively producing a paltry .246 batting average with an uninspiring .277 on-base percentage thus far this year. The 29-year still refuses to take a walk, having only taken a free pass 18 times while whiffing 90 times. His defensive metrics have also declined steadily over the past three seasons to the extent that Pillar sports a -5 in defensive runs saved, compare that to totals of 21 and 22 in 2015/16 respectively. Even his Ulitmate Zone Rating/150 is at 2.0, a far cry from his 16.8 rating from 2016.

The emergence of Billy McKinney really makes this trade scenario more plausible. McKinney has proven over the last month that he may be finally ready to make the leap to the majors. The young outfielder is hitting .287 with five round-trippers in 29 MLB games this season while playing steady defence.

McKinney may have even surpassed the free-swinging Teoscar Hernandez on the outfield depth chart. Hernandez continues to make playing the outfield an adventure and is ranked 12th in the majors with 157 whiffs this season. Hernandez has reached the 20-homer plateau but will need to hone in the plate discipline if he plans on seeing full-time reps in 2019.

Pillar is undoubtedly a fan favourite in these parts but he is earning $3.25 million this season and poised for a considerable raise via arbitration. The Jays could obtain an asset in return for the longest serving Blue Jay and shed some salary in the process. We are in a rebuild, folks.