New York Mets: Center Fielder Kevin Pillar Signed To One-Year Deal

New York Yankees, Kevin Pillar
DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 16: Kevin Pillar #11 of the Colorado Rockies bats during the second inning against the Oakland Athletics at Coors Field on September 16, 2020 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

The New York Mets continue to add outfield depth to their roster by signing Kevin Pillar to a one-year deal. After starting the offseason with limited outfield options, the Mets now have plenty of bench options to choose from.

Pillar’s deal includes a second-year option for another $5 million. It is puzzling that the Mets decided to sign Pillar for this price after missing out on Justin Wilson on the same day. They already have Albert Almora Jr., Jose Martinez, and Guillermo Heredia as outfield options. Almora and Martinez have minor league options, putting Pillar as the front runner to become the fourth outfielder.

Pillar is coming his best offensive season with a .288/.336/.462 slash line with the Boston Red Sox and Colorado Rockies. His defensive metrics have dropped similarly to Almora’s, but Pillar separates himself with his damage against left-handed pitching. Pillar batted .342 with a .579 slugging percentage against southpaws.

What’s His Role?

He will serve as a late-inning defensive replacement for Dominic Smith and should receive starts against lefties. Pillar was once had 11 OAA (2016) and 25 DRS (2015) in individual seasons but has dramatically declined since then. He has a negative DRS for the last three seasons and had his first negative OAA season in 2020. Pillar’s center field days are over and but he can still provide great defense in the corners.

For the first time, the Mets have a group of bench players who could start on other big-league teams. If an outfielder misses an extended period of time, the Mets can be confident in Pillar’s production. With a stockpile of players at each position, there likely is a final move the Mets plan to make before spring training.