The Boston Red Sox recently signed outfielder Kevin Pillar to a one-year, $4.25 million deal. This Pillar signing comes following the loss of Red Sox superstar, Mookie Betts, in a blockbuster deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
While this acquisition definitely helps lessen the damage resulting from the Dodgers trade, it does cause a problem in the outfield.
In the Betts trade, the Red Sox acquired outfielder Alex Verdugo, who had a very impressive rookie campaign with the Dodgers. This deal now leaves the Red Sox with five outfielders. (Martinez, Benintendi, Bradley, Pillar, Verdugo) Assuming Martinez is the designated hitter, where does that leave everyone else?
Managing Playing Time
Last season, Kevin Pillar had arguably his best offensive year, hitting .259 with 21 home runs. Where Pillar really shines, however, is defensively. He has been a finalist for Gold Glove in center field every year he has played in the majors. His defensive ability is arguably at the same caliber of Jackie Bradley Jr. For that reason, the Red Sox can balance playing time in center between the two. Pillar can start on days a left-handed pitcher is starting against them, and Bradley can start against right-handed pitchers. This same scenario could work with Verdugo instead of Bradley, as long a Pillar is comfortable in Fenway’s right field. Pillar is also a step above Bradley offensively, which makes him a good option to use as a pinch-hitter. However, I believe that, while this option is a good one, making a trade to free-up room for Pillar to play full time is a better option.
Trading Bradley now that we have Kevin Pillar
Trade rumors involving Jackie Bradley Jr. have been circulating this off-season. I believe that now, more than ever, Jackie Bradley Jr. should be traded. Bradley is still young, has loads of talent, and would be a good piece for any team that is looking to make a playoff push this season and needs help defensively. This move would create room for Pillar, who I believe is slightly better all-around than Bradley to become a full-time player. Verdugo would also become a full-time player, which is crucial for him in this stage of his career, as he is likely yet to reach his full potential in the big leagues. Not only that, but the Sox can finally try to get some decent pitching in return for Bradley. After getting nothing in terms of pitching in the Betts deal, it is crucial that the Sox pick-up at least one or two decent arms to strengthen our subpar pitching staff.
The signing of Kevin Pillar is something that Red Sox fans should be happy about during these dark days without Mookie Betts. However, if the organization doesn’t manage the outfield situation correctly, the team will not improve as much as it should.