Whether the Giants tender outfielder Kevin Pillar a contract during the offseason “will serve as a clear referendum on how married to the metrics Farhan Zaidi’s baseball operations group will be,” Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic writes (subscription required). The Giants’ Zaidi-led front office acquired Pillar from Toronto in April, though the club could move on from him within the next couple months if it decides he’ll be too pricey to keep. Pillar’s making an affordable $5.8MM this year, but he’ll earn an appreciable raise over that sum during his last trip to arbitration because of his counting stats (631 plate appearances, 21 home runs, 86 runs batted in, 81 runs, 13 stolen bases). Those are aesthetically pleasing numbers, which can’t be said of the .257/.284/.430 batting line or the 83 wRC+ Pillar has posted. And while the soon-to-be 31-year-old Pillar has rightly been regarded as a marvelous defender throughout his career, advanced metrics haven’t been that bullish on him the past couple seasons (zero DRS, plus-1.2 UZR between center and right this year).
Pillar realizes the new-school turn that baseball’s front offices have taken could spell doom for his tenure as a Giant. He told Baggarly he wants to stay in San Francisco, but he acknowledged that “my future’s kind of up in the air.” Baggarly’s piece is worth a full read for more quotes from Pillar, a couple of his teammates and manager Bruce Bochy in regards to the high impact they believe he has made as a Giant.
Checking in on a pair of other MLB clubs…
- Mets first baseman/corner outfielder Dominic Smith will attempt to add center field to his list of positions next year, Tim Healey of Newsday relays. Smith, who has already slimmed down since he debuted in the majors in 2017, will spend the offseason getting in even better shape in order to become a viable option at the outfield’s most challenging spot. Whether Smith will play another game for the Mets after this season is in question, though, with Healey noting the 24-year-old could be a trade chip over the winter. NL Rookie of the Year shoo-in Pete Alonso occupies Smith’s primary position, first base, while the Mets count Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, Jeff McNeil and J.D. Davis (not to mention the injured Yoenis Cespedes) among their other corner outfield-capable players.
- White Sox right-hander Dylan Cease’s season came to an early end when the club made him a late scratch from his scheduled start Thursday. Cease is dealing with a hamstring issue, one that will require an MRI on Friday, Scott Merkin of MLB.com tweets. The touted 23-year-old wrapped up his debut campaign with a 5.79 ERA/5.19 FIP, 9.99 K/9 and 4.32 BB/9 in 73 innings.
- Righty Michael Kopech, another of the White Sox’s coveted young arms, didn’t pitch at all this year after undergoing Tommy John surgery last September. Now, though, the flamethrowing Kopech is anticipating what he hopes will be a normal spring training. “I am as ready I can be right now,” Kopech said (via Bruce Levine of 670 The Score). “I have done everything I can to prepare. It has been a long time coming. I am ready to go for next spring.” Kopech should have a shot to join the returning trio of Cease, breakout star Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez in the White Sox’s season-opening rotation in 2020.