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Mets: Kevin Pillar is MUCH better than some recent Mets outfielders

Feb 22, 2021; Port St. Lucie, Florida, USA; New York Mets center fielder Kevin Pillar (11) fields a fly ball during the first day of full-squad spring training workouts at Clover Park. Mandatory Credit: Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 22, 2021; Port St. Lucie, Florida, USA; New York Mets center fielder Kevin Pillar (11) fields a fly ball during the first day of full-squad spring training workouts at Clover Park. Mandatory Credit: Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports

By all accounts, the New York Mets have had a phenomenal 2021 offseason. Despite failing to sign any of the “big three” free agents (Trevor Bauer, JT Realmuto, or George Springer), the franchise was still able to completely revamp an already impressive lineup.

New York was able to complete a blockbuster trade for superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor and veteran pitcher Carlos Carrasco. Additionally, the team was also able to add depth to the outfield, starting rotation, catcher position, and bullpen.

There are only two notable remaining concerns on the depth chart: centerfield and bullpen. Perhaps the Mets will look to the trade market to address these needs. However, for the time being, the front office seems confident in its current pieces.

The New York Mets’ Need

As things currently stand, New York will move forward with Brandon Nimmo slated as their everyday centerfielder. While Nimmo boasts a dangerous bat and ability to get on base, the natural corner outfielder was one of the worst defensive centerfielders in his first full-time action in 2020.

The Mets did add some veteran depth at the position. New York agreed to contracts with veterans Kevin Pillar and Albert Almora Jr. Pillar has a reputation as a good hitter with declining defensive ability. Almora Jr’s skillset is based mostly on his glove work.

For the past several seasons, New York has elected to pass on established centerfield options. Instead, they have looked to a number of fringe talents and platoon players as a stopgap for their lack of a starting-caliber option.

While their 2021 depth chart may seem like more of the same strategy, Pillar represents a considerable upgrade over past Mets’ outfield signings.

Pillars’ Profile

Don’t be fooled by the similarities in their signings. At first glance, Pilar fits the same mold as players like Jake Marisnick, Keon Broxton, and Austin Jackson. (And Billy Hamilton. And Carlos Gomez. And… Okay, I’ll stop.) Each was added as a temporary fill-in at an important defensive position.

However, Pillar is far more than a fringe talent. The eight-year veteran has been a starting-caliber outfielder for the vast majority of his career. He has also averaged 15 homers, 16 steals, 62 RBI throughout his eight-year career.

While he has never cracked into the All-Star tier, he has produced a very solid major-league career. In fact, during his best season (2019) he finished 22nd in NL MVP voting. Despite his older age ( Pillar is currently 32-years-old), the veteran finished the shortened 2020 season with the highest batting average of his career (.288). He is still a capable starting option who should thrive in a bench/platoon role.

The Past Options

It is not an exaggeration to say the Mets centerfield situation has been quite fluid in recent years. The franchise’s lack of a well-rounded, starting option has led to a plethora of temporary fixes.

Marisnick played in just 16 games for the Mets. Jackson appeared in 57 contests. At their best, both were extremely average options. Broxton on the other hand recorded a .143 batting average before promptly being traded.

New York hoped each of these players would serve a valuable role. Unfortunately, none were able to rise to the challenge.

The Verdict

While Pillar was signed at a similar time and for a similar role as his past counterparts, it is quite clear that he is the cream of the crop. He will join current Met Brandon Nimmo as the only players on the roster with the ability to play all three outfielder spots.

He, unlike other temporary outfield fixes, also has a proven hit tool. He is the perfect combination of serviceable defender and competent hitter.

Next. Murphy's Law and the Mets

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While his exact role remains to be seen, it is clear that Pillar’s presence on the roster will give manager Luis Rojas a great deal of flexibility. Mets fans should expect great things from the veteran in 2021.