Phillies: 3 free agent center fielders they can sign

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 25: Kevin Pillar #1 of the San Francisco Giants bats against the Colorado Rockies in the bottom of the fifth inning at Oracle Park on September 25, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 25: Kevin Pillar #1 of the San Francisco Giants bats against the Colorado Rockies in the bottom of the fifth inning at Oracle Park on September 25, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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SAN FRANCISCO, CA – SEPTEMBER 14: Kevin Pillar #1 of the San Francisco Giants at bat against the Miami Marlins during the eighth inning at Oracle Park on September 14, 2019 in San Francisco, California. The Miami Marlins defeated the San Francisco Giants 4-2. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – SEPTEMBER 14: Kevin Pillar #1 of the San Francisco Giants at bat against the Miami Marlins during the eighth inning at Oracle Park on September 14, 2019 in San Francisco, California. The Miami Marlins defeated the San Francisco Giants 4-2. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images) /

Kevin Pillar

When Morosi tweeted that the Phillies were looking for another center fielder to complement Haseley in 2020 a lot of the replies and comments centered around Kevin Pillar.

Over parts of seven years with the Toronto Blue Jays and San Francisco Giants Pillar has hit .261 averaging 37 doubles and 14 home runs.

Pillar’s career started with some bouncing between the minor leagues and Toronto for two seasons before sticking as the starter in 2015 as a 26-year-old. In his first full season Pillar hit .278 with 31 doubles and a dozen home runs while making highlight reel catch after catch in center field.

Pillar made a countless number of remarkable catches in Toronto, whether it be laying out or going straight into the center field wall with no regard for his safety.

Between 2015 and 2018 Pillar’s batting average dropped every year, but he had at least 30 doubles every season and hit 40 in 2018 for the Blue Jays.

After going 1-16 to start the 2019 season the Blue Jays traded Pillar to San Francisco where he would roam one of the largest outfields in baseball. He would find his stroke in San Francisco, hitting .264 with 37 doubles and a career-best 21 home runs.

Pillar has played only on one-year arbitration deals, making $5.8 million in 2019 between the Giants and Blue Jays. He was slated to earn about $9.7 million (per MLB  Trade Rumors) if the Giants hadn’t non-tendered him this offseason.

More from That Balls Outta Here

The injuries and hard hits may have caught up to Pillar, whose defensive numbers took a hit. Statcast had him as a 51st percentile outfielder in 2019 and with a -7 defensive runs saved and +2 runs per Ultimate Zone Rating over his last two seasons. Despite the extra-base hits, he also doesn’t hit the ball very hard, sitting in the 10th percentile for Exit Velocity and 14th for Hard-Hit Percentage.

Pillar did hit lefties better last year, about 26 points higher compared to righties.

At this point Pillar is likely to get a one-year “prove it deal” that will likely be less than the $9.5 million San Francisco turned down. Brett Gardner signed for $12.5 million this offseason, while Kole Calhoun and Corey Dickerson signed deals averaging $8 million and $8.75 million respectively.

Pillar might have to realize he’s going to either platoon for a good team or start for a really bad team and hope he’s traded to a contender late in the year. If he wants to make sure he sticks with a solid team the Phillies might his best option if the money is right.