Kevin Pillar Made Mistake Declining His Option
In a surprise, Kevin Pillar is a free agent. While it was reasonable to presume the New York Mets would decline his option, it was a complete shock Pillar declined his.
Pillar will be 33 on Opening Day next season. He’s coming off a year where he had a career worst 0.5 WAR (for a full season). That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Pillar has been at an 88 OPS+ in the last two full seasons. This is a slight dip from his career best in 2015 when he was still below league average. In fact, Pillar has never been above league average in any full season.
That was acceptable when defense was his calling card. It’s really not that case anymore. Aside from 2016, when he was an astounding 11 OAA, he’s been between a 1 to -2 OAA in the outfield.
That’s not to suggest he’s bad. He’s not. Rather, he’s an average fielder who is a below average bat. That makes him a rotation, platoon, or bench player. He’s not a starter.
Judging from Baseball Savant, Pillar has issues. He’s not driving the ball, and his contact rate is in decline. Same goes for his eye. His speed remains good, but that’s also been slipping.
That’s the biggest issue with Pillar. He appears to be a player in decline. He had a safety net with the Mets with a fair $2.9 million option. With that one year, he had an opportunity to re-establish value.
While betting on himself is admirable, it might be misguided. It’s highly unlikely he finds a starting job. After all, he was offered a part-time role with the Mets after a decent 2020.
This leaves him again seeking out a bench role. Maybe he finds it without needing to resort to a non-roster invite. Maybe he even finds a team who can provide a decent role, albeit likely not one with as much playing time as the Mets could’ve offered.
Overall, Pillar either bet on himself or got out of a place he no longer wanted to play. He gambled he’d get a better role, salary, and/or chance to win. At this moment, it’s difficult to see that happening, which is why Pillar should’ve stayed with the Mets.