Blue Jays: Kevin Pillar should be a non-tender candidate
There’s still a minimum of four games left in the MLB season with a maximum of seven as well as a crucial managerial hire for the Toronto Blue Jays front office, but the Blue Jays are going to need to make some big decisions surrounding their roster for 2019.
That includes prepping for the Rule 5 draft where they could lose some talent, massaging the roster via free agency, as well as trades. To create this room on the roster, Kevin Pillar, though a fan favourite, should 100% be non-tendered.
Pillar made $3.25 million in 2018 and is projected to make $5.3 million heading into the second year of his arbitration eligibility. Pillar is turning 30, his offensive production continues to be well below average with a career 87 wRC+, and for the first time in his career, he posted a negative DRS at -2.
Things aren’t trending in the right direction for Kevin Pillar on all phases of his game and with much younger, intriguing options in the minors and potentially a splash in free agency, Pillar shouldn’t be tendered a contract.
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The question would then be, who would play in centerfield? The first candidate would be Randal Grichuk, who put together a nice season after an atrocious April, though there was a ton of tough luck for Grichuk.
Grichuk played the majority of his season in right field but as the season went on, younger guys came up, and Pillar continued to freefall, Grichuk saw more time in center field and he showed fans he is equally up to the task as Pillar.
The Blue Jays are also going to have to start seeing what they have in some of their younger players like Anthony Alford, whose career is off to a tough-luck start with some very unlucky injuries. Others include Dwight Smith Jr., who’s proven to be quite an effective 4th outfielder and a borderline starter, and Billy McKinney, who showed last year he’s close if not ready for a full-time major league gig in the outfield.
Of course, Teoscar Hernandez is still an outfielder for the time being despite him playing in the outfield looking like a circus. Until Kendrys Morales‘ is done as a Blue Jay, Hernandez will need to see time in the outfield.
There are also some veteran free agents who would provide some instant value to a young Blue Jays outfield like A.J. Pollock, Andrew McCutchen, Brett Gardner, and Adam Jones. Given the talent and lack of space currently in the outfield, I highly doubt the Blue Jays make a big splash at all in the outfield market.
It’s evident to some that Kevin Pillar is pretty poor at the plate. The casual fan still believes that he is Superman in the outfield because of his diving catches, but he was not an overly good fielder in 2018. He’s also turning 30. Given that the Blue Jays have younger, cheaper, more controllable, and likely more valuable outfielders in the system and ready to crack the big leagues for 2019, Kevin Pillar should be non-tendered.