New York Mets: Pillar One-Year Deal Official, Heredia DFA’d

New York Yankees, Kevin Pillar

On Sunday, the New York Mets officially signed Kevin Pillar to a one-year, $5 million deal as he becomes their final outfield depth piece. Guillermo Heredia was designated for assignment to make room for Pillar on the 40-man roster.

Pillar’s great defensive years in center field are behind him, but he is still valuable in the corners. Over the last two seasons, center field is the only spot where his DRS is negative. Pillar joins an outfield crew that already features Dominic Smith, Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, and Albert Almora Jr. 

Pillar vs. Almora

The combination of Pillar and Almora is very beneficial to the roster. Heredia and Almora are very similar players, and one of them needed to be upgraded from being the “latest version of Juan Lagares.” As defensive subs, Pillar would go to left field while Almora will play center field. Pillar has 79 games in left while Almora only has 11.

While Almora adds defensive value, he brings nothing offensively and is not a speed threat. Pillar is coming off his two best offensive seasons and was a major threat against left-handed pitching in 2020. He slashed .342/.390/.579 and has always produced better against lefties in his career. Pillar also averages 16 stolen bases per season and is in the 73rd percentile for sprint speed.

Heredia will likely remain with the Mets unless other teams are pressing for another depth outfielder. In 2020, he batted .212 with two home runs and five runs batted in over 15 games.



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

New York Yankees, Kevin Pillar

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.



New York Mets Best Outfield Options On The Free Agent Market

New York Yankees, Kevin Pillar

The New York Mets desperately need a center fielder, and George Springer perfectly fits the mold. If the Mets strike out on Springer, what are their other options to fill a huge need in the outfield?

1. George Springer

There is no more convincing for the Mets to sign Springer. He is an improvement defensively and brings a proven postseason bat for a roster that lacks postseason experience. Springer is also a much needed right-handed power bat in the Mets lineup that perfectly balances their offense.

2. Kevin Pillar

Kevin Pillar is a significant downgrade from Springer, but his offensive production has improved over the last two seasons. Pillar has 27 home runs and a .440 slugging over the last two seasons. While Pillar’s defense has declined over the last few seasons, he is still an update from Brandon Nimmo. No disrespect to Pillar, but anyone not named George Springer would be a complete failure for center field.

3. Jackie Bradley Jr. 

Jackie Bradley Jr. is still a good defensive center fielder, but his offense is filled with inconsistency. 2020 was Bradley’s first season with an average over .270. His power numbers have also fluctuated over his career, which does not project him to be a major upgrade in center field. Bradley would be a lower walk rate, better defending version of Nimmo.

4. Joc Pederson

Joc Pederson is always a tremendous power threat but his center field days might be far behind him. Pederson only hit .190 in 2020 but came alive in the postseason with 15 hits. If the Mets choose to move J.D. Davis or the DH is implemented in the NL, Pederson is very much worth a look.

5. Michael Brantley

Michael Brantley is a huge shot in the dark for the Mets. But if you are going to have a horrible defense, why not try to win with overwhelming offense. The Mets offense would become the best in baseball with a .470+ sugging percentage hitter at every position. Signing Brantley would all but end Davis’s tenure in New York. Nimmo would remain in center while Brantley man’s left (if there is a DH). But you have got a better chance of landing a Play Station 5 than the Mets signing Brantley.

New York Mets: The Possible Infield Options With D.J. LeMahieu

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

The New York Mets have “recently contacted” D.J. LeMahieu, according to Jon Heyman. Take that as you may but signing LeMahieu would strengthen their offense and drastically better their infield defense. If signing LeMahieu has traction, then the Mets have multiple combinations to work with during 2021.

The continued guessing game on a designated hitter for 2021 makes dealing with the free-agent market harder for every National League Team. The Mets already have DH options in place, but it does not make decision-making any easier.

In a few of these situations, J.D. Davis becomes very expendable. He was already part of rumors along with Amed Rosario for a Francisco Lindor trade. The obvious missing part is the missing prospect(s) needed to complete the move. As enticing as the trade seems, Davis, Rosario, plus a prospect might be too much if Lindor does not remain with the Mets past 2021. If Lindor was the difference separating the Mets from being a World Series contender, giving up a little extra would be reasonable.

No DH Option 1: LeMahieu to Third, McNeil to Second

With Robinson Cano suspended for the entirety of 2021, the Mets can move Jeff McNeil to second base. LeMahieu plays third base while Dominic Smith and J.D. Davis handles the left field. The infield defense would be significantly better than in 2020, but the outfield would still suffer. Signing LeMahieu could make signing George Springer tougher. It certainly could still happen, but Jackie Bradley Jr. or Kevin Pillar is more realistic in that situation.

No DH Option 2: LeMahieu at Second, Davis/McNeil at Third

LeMahieu at second shows, the Mets are content with either Davis or McNeil at third base. Davis was better defensively in 2020, but neither one stood out. Second base is LeMahieu’s natural position and is where he won all three of his Gold Glove awards. Andres Gimenez should play shortstop when pitchers like Marcus Stroman and David Peterson are on the mound. Stroman especially is a groundball pitcher, and solidifying the defense up the middle would attempt to make up for the weak corner options.

DH Option 1 (With Springer in CF): LeMahieu to Third, McNeil to Second, Nimmo in Left, Smith DH

This is the dream scenario for the Mets, especially with the DH in place. They would get a good balance of offense and defense they have not found in years. Offensively, the lineup would become a nightmare to pitch to, and the overall team defense improves. Even if the center fielder becomes one of the two names mentioned earlier, the defense still improves, but the offense would lose some punch.

DH Option 2 (Without Anyone New in CF): LeMahieu to Second, Davis to Third, McNeil to Left, Smith DH

With Brandon Nimmo in center field, the Mets cannot afford two below-average fielders in their everyday outfield. McNeil defended much better in the left-field after moving from third base. While Nimmo struggles in center field, McNeil and Michael Conforto would handle the corners. This is the least likely option as the Mets are almost guaranteed to sign a new center fielder.

Of course, there are way more options than the four mentioned. The idea of Rosario at third base or Gimenez at shortstop changes the whole dynamic of LeMahieu at the roster. The great part of this offseason is the ability to contemplate good solutions. In the past, ownership settled for options similar to slapping duct tape on a leak.

New York Yankees: Three Free Agent Outfielders To Consider

New York Yankees, Cameron Maybin

The New York Yankees will need another outfielder on their 26 man roster in 2020. They have in house options like Mike Tauchman and Clint Frazier, or they could choose to sign a free agent. Here are three free agent options that the team could consider signing on for the 2020 season and beyond.

Kevin Pillar

Kevin Pillar spent most of the 2019 season with the San Francisco Giants after an early trade from the Toronto Blue Jays. He hit .259 with 21 home runs and 88 runs batted in overall. He’s a slightly above average batter, but a gold glove outfielder and can steal bags.

If the Yankees signed him, he would play centerfield as Brett Gardner would play left with Giancarlo Stanton as the DH.

Steven Souza Jr.

Steven Souza Jr. missed the entire 2019 season after a freak injury in a pre-season exhibition. He hit .220 in 2018, missing half the season due to injuries.

He would be used as a backup in New York, as his bat isn’t good enough to play every day. But, he’s shown how dominant he can be at times and he could finally break out if the Yankees signed him.

Cameron Maybin

Cameron Maybin had a very successful season with the Yankees in 2019, and should be considered again for the 2020 season. He hit .285 with a career high 11 home runs with the team after starting the season in AAA for the Cleveland Indians.

The only thing holding the Yankees back is his interest. He is likely looking for an everyday job somewhere, and New York might not be that place.