To celebrate President’s Day, the New York Mets brought in yet another outfielder. Former you-probably-thought-he-won-a Gold Glove winner Kevin Pillar joins the club on a one-year deal with an option for a second season. Known best for his defense with the Toronto Blue Jays, Pillar is a much different player at this stage of his career.
Now in his 30s, Pillar’s center field defense doesn’t compare to what it was in his earlier years. Probably best suited as a corner outfielder, the Mets still appear to believe he’s an upgrade over Brandon Nimmo on defense.
He probably is. There’s little to argue about why the Mets signed him. The only thing up for debate is how much playing time he actually gets.
Kevin Pillar is the Mets fourth outfielder, not a platoon player
The Mets went into this offseason without much help in the outfield. Other than Michael Conforto and the aforementioned Nimmo, they didn’t really have any suitable options.
This has changed quite a bit since. Jose Martinez is with the team on a minor league deal and could see some time in a corner spot. Although, I think the club intends to mostly use him for his bat. We also saw them sign Albert Almora for what we believed was the exact role Pillar could play: late-inning defensive replacement.
Always looking to upgrade, this new Mets regime has added yet another name to the outfield mix. Pillar has a more proven track-record than Almora at the plate which bodes well for the club. Even if his defense isn’t what it once was, Pillar gives the Mets a guy they can turn to for late-inning glovework at all three outfield spots—most likely in center field more than any other.
This shouldn’t affect Nimmo’s playing time all that much but we will probably see him sit a little more versus lefties. Unless Nimmo proves he can hit southpaws better, we may see a little bit of Pillar in the starting lineup whenever the team faces a left-handed starter.
It’s all speculation as to exactly what Pillar’s role will be with the Mets, but I have a hard time believing he’s in New York to platoon. Nimmo is a superior offensive player. He should play often.
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Pillar does help resolve one question we didn’t really ask this offseason: what do the Mets do if they lose an outfielder to an injury? Almora wouldn’t cut it as an everyday player. Pillar, every season since 2015, has proven that he can.