Mets sign Kevin Pillar, Albert Almora, and Jonathan Villar
While the Mets have struggled with pitching depth, they have also struggled to have quality position player depth as well. The list of defensive center fielders the Mets have had that can’t hit a lick is endless. Guys like Kevin Pillar and Albert Almora are steps up from Billy Hamilton and Keon Broxton, that’s for sure.
The Mets made three additions to the bench and I like them all a lot. Kevin Pillar might be known more for his days as “Superman” on the Blue Jays, but he is a different player now. His defense has gotten worse, but his bat has improved. He is coming off of his best offensive season, splitting time with Colorado and Boston and slashing .288/.336/.462 with six home runs and 26 RBI. In 2019, he slashed .264/.293/.442 and hit 21 home runs while driving in 87 runs.
He is a .286 hitter against lefties in his career and should be a great bench bat. And even with his defense on the decline, he is still better in left than Dom Smith, and probably better in center than Brandon Nimmo as well.
He is someone the Mets can play every day if an outfielder or Pete Alonso misses time with injury. You won’t lose too much offensively, and he should be at least serviceable in the outfield. He has looked very good with the bat and the glove in Spring Training thus far.
Albert Almora is an upgraded version of what guys like Juan Lagares and Jake Marisnick were for the Mets last season. He is an excellent defender, has speed, and has had a little bit of success with the bat in his career. With the lineup the Mets have, he won’t be relied upon to produce much offensively. He will likely come in and play center field late in games most of the time to give the Mets a plus defender in the outfield.
While Almora is not known for his bat, he has slashed .280/.332/.402 against southpaws in his career. The Mets have three left-handed-hitting outfielders as their starters so having a right-handed bat who can defend and hit pretty well against lefties is a good thing off the bench.
Jonathan Villar is a starting-caliber player in this league and the Mets got him to bolster their bench. That’s excellent value. Villar did struggle last year with the Marlins and Blue Jays (especially against the Mets) but he put up outstanding numbers in 2019. He slashed .274/.339/.453 with 24 home runs and 73 RBI for Baltimore. He also tacked on 40 stolen bases. His career-high in that department is 62 back in 2016.
Villar adds a ton for this Mets bench. He is a switch hitter, the only one the Mets have other than Lindor. He is extremely versatile, can play three infield positions, and can move to the outfield if need be.
The best part about Villar is he provides speed. The Mets have not had speed on their team since the days of prime Jose Reyes. Villar is someone who can steal at least 30 bases if he plays enough, and that just adds another dimension to the Mets lineup on the days that he’s in it. With his versatility, he will play pretty often.
This Mets bench looks as good as I can remember. Pinch hitters won’t be automatic outs, and if guys get hurt they have legitimate major league options that can step into an everyday role if need be. I love these signings.