With renewed rumours around interest in Kevin Pillar on the trade market, the Blue Jays would be wise to take advantage and make a move now before the regular season starts.
With a recent rash of injuries to the pitching staff, and also to Dalton Pompey, the Blue Jays are now in a much different position with their roster build than they were a week ago. Still, that doesn’t mean they couldn’t and shouldn’t be looking to make another trade before opening day.
We heard on Saturday that the San Francisco Giants could have potential interest in Kevin Pillar, the Blue Jays’ veteran centre fielder. Pillar has been the subject of a few rumours this offseason, and with just two years remaining before he becomes a free agent he’s been seen as a prime candidate to get dealt sometime this year, especially as the Blue Jays continue with their rebuild and go with younger players across their roster. There were also rumblings that the Cubs could be looking for help in the middle of their outfield too, and it’s possible Pillar could fit for such a thing.
If there is legitimate interest in the 30 year old, I really believe the Blue Jays have to be aggressive in making their decision now. We’re not talking about a player with Josh Donaldson‘s potential to bring back a prospect haul, but the Blue Jays have squandered a couple of opportunities to trade veteran pieces at the beginning of this rebuild, and I’d hate to see the same happen with Pillar. Again, he’s not going to fetch a premium package, but if a possible contender sees him as a fit for their roster, they’ll likely send some kind of value back, even if it’s a high-risk, high-reward type.
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It would be nice to have a few veterans around to show the younger players the ropes, but I believe this team can handle things without Pillar, especially given the sudden depth that has emerged in the outfield. Randal Grichuk has shown an ability to handle centre field, and the position could also be covered defensively by Anthony Alford, who had a great spring but was optioned back to Triple-A, mostly because of a lack of room on the 25 man roster. He could probably use a little more seasoning in the minor leagues, but he’s also 24 and it wouldn’t hurt to give him an opportunity, especially if it were a consistent one.
The Blue Jays also have the likes of Teoscar Hernandez, Billy McKinney, as well Jonathan Davis, and infielders like Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Brandon Drury who can handle corner duties. There’s also the possibility that several other outfielders could become available this week as other teams make their roster decisions, so the Blue Jays aren’t married to Pillar even if the timing of Pompey’s injury is unfortunate, or if they’d rather see Alford in Buffalo to start the year.
For me, this is nothing personal against “Superman” at all, it’s just that it’s very difficult to see him as part of the long term future of this team. Couple that with the fact that at 30 years old and with two full seasons of club control, he’s unlikely to ever have more trade value than he does right now.
The dWAR metrics have been on his side for years, and while he showed signs of regression last season it’s still very possible that teams are looking at him as a piece that could be underrated, and maybe even have untapped value. That’s how many Blue Jays fans have viewed him for years, and if there’s ever a time to convince another team that he’s worth trading for, I would think it’s probably right now.