TODAY: Pillar’s deal was officially announced by the team.
FEB. 15, 10:18pm: Pillar will earn $3.6MM this year. There is a $2.9MM player option with no buyout or a $6.4MM club option with a $1.4MM buyout for 2022, per Mark Feinsand of MLB.com.
9:40pm: It’s a $5MM guarantee that could go to $10MM over two years, Heyman tweets.
7:57pm: It’s a one-year contract, Anthony DiComo of MLB.com reports.
7:24pm: The Mets and free-agent outfielder Kevin Pillar “are in serious talks,” according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network. Pillar would be the second notable outfield addition in the past week for the Mets, who previously signed ex-Cub Albert Almora Jr.
Like Almora, Pillar would provide depth in a Mets outfield that, at least for now, is slated to start Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto and Dominic Smith in 2021. Of course that, could be subject to change if the Mets make another major acquisition by signing, say, Jackie Bradley Jr. – the top-ranked center fielder left in free agency – or swinging a trade for Cubs third baseman/outfielder Kris Bryant. Mets fans would probably prefer a high-profile move like that, but it’s possible the team will simply go into the year with the cast it has and a lower-cost pickup such as Pillar.
Now 32 years old, Pillar is best known for his run in Toronto from 2013-19, during which he established himself as a world-class defender in center field. Pillar spent most of 2019 as a Giant after they acquired him from the Blue Jays, and he divided last season between the Red Sox and Rockies. Statistically, Pillar’s defense isn’t at peak form (he combined for minus-6 Defensive Runs Saved and a 2.0 Ultimate Zone Rating from 2019-20), but he does carry experience at all three outfield positions.
Pillar has never been a huge offensive threat, but a team could certainly do worse than him as a reserve option. He’s a lifetime .262/.299/.408 hitter with 82 home runs and 88 stolen bases over 3,486 plate appearances. Pillar recorded a personal-best 106 wRC+ last season, when he slashed .288/.336/.462, hit six homers and swiped five bags in 223 PA.