Giants Acquire Kevin Pillar In Trade With Blue Jays
After watching Giants outfielders go a combined 7-for-50 (.140) with 22 strikeouts through the first five games of the season, new general manager Farhan Zaidi apparently decided he'd had enough.
The Giants acquired outfielder Kevin Pillar from the Blue Jays on Tuesday in exchange for utilityman Alen Hanson, reliever Derek Law and minor league righthander Juan De Paula. Pillar becomes the latest in a long list of outfielders acquired by the Giants within the past month as they seek to improve their outfield, which has been among baseball's worst for years.
The Giants designated outfielder Michael Reed for assignment to make room for Pillar on the roster. Reed, a career minor leaguer acquired by the Giants on March 23 to be a potential outfield solution, started the season 0-for-8 with six strikeouts.
Kevin Pillar, OF
Pillar was a 32nd-round pick out of Division II Cal State Dominguez Hills in 2011 and reached the majors two years later, ultimately settling in as the Blue Jays' starting center fielder for most of the decade in a Cinderella story. Pillar remains an elite defender, but his batting average and on-base percentage have both been dropping for three consecutive years, cratering with a .252/.282/.426 slash line last year. Even at those reduced numbers, Pillar is a substantial upgrade over what the Giants have been trotting out. He has one additional year of arbitration remaining and isn't scheduled to be a free agent until after the 2020 season. From the Blue Jays' perspective, Pillar's departure opens up a spot for longtime touted prospect Anthony Alford to take over as their everyday center fielder.
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Alen Hanson, UTIL
Hanson never quite lived up to his billing as a two-time Top 100 Prospect, but he settled into a valuable utility role for the Giants last year, playing at least 10 games at second base, left field, shortstop and third base, all while providing a bit of power and speed at the plate. Hanson is an aggressive hitter who rarely walks and is inconsistent in his ability to make solid contact, but his athleticism and versatility give him a chance to provide value to the Blue Jays on a part-time basis.
Derek Law, RHP
The hard-throwing Law was never able to build on a strong rookie campaign in 2016, when he posted a 2.13 ERA in 61 appearances, and spent most of last year in Triple-A. His fastball averages 94-95 mph and reaches 98 mph, but poor command of the pitch has made him susceptible to deep counts and high walk totals. His slider is a swing-and-miss pitch, and he also has a curveball. Law needs to regain command of his fastball to find success in the majors. The Blue Jays will try and help him do that.
Juan De Paula, RHP
De Paula ranked as the Giants' No. 13 prospect entering the season and will now join his fourth team. He was originally signed by the Mariners, got traded to the Yankees in a deal for Ben Gamel in 2016, and last August was traded to the Giants for as part of the return for Andrew McCutchen. De Paula is a skinny, 6-foot-3 righthander with growing stuff and room to add more weight and strength to his frame. His fastball sits in the mid-90s and touches 98 mph with above-average life. He shows feel for a chanegup and curveball as well, although both have a long way to go in terms of consistency and overall development. De Paula has made only one start in full-season ball and is a bit of lottery ticket, but he has the upside of a mid-rotation starter if everything clicks.