SAN FRANCISCO -- It didn't take long for Kevin Pillar to win over the fan base and his new clubhouse, but the outfielder's run as a Giant is over after just one season.
The Giants non-tendered Pillar before Monday night's deadline, making him a free agent for the first time. Pillar, acquired the first week of the season from the Blue Jays, led the Giants in homers, RBI and stolen bases, but there were other issues in his statistical profile and the organization preferred to go with a younger group in the outfield. Pillar was expected to make about $10 million in his final year of arbitration.
The Giants plan to go young in the outfield, which now will be led by Mike Yastrzemski, who tied Pillar for the team lead with 21 homers and could see plenty of time in center field next season. Austin Slater will be back, along with Alex Dickerson, who agreed to a one-year deal Monday worth $925,000. Two young prospects, one acquired by Farhan Zaidi and one he inherited, will also get a long look.
Jaylin Davis, a 25-year-old who was acquired at the deadline and hit 35 homers in the minors last season, is highly thought of. Steven Duggar, a 26-year-old who once looked like the organization's center fielder of the future before shoulder injuries stalled his progress, will be 100 percent for the start of the spring. Yastrzemski appeared more than capable of handling center field when given limited opportunities last season, and the Giants also could go with a wild card who might be the most intriguing option of all.
When Mauricio Dubon was picked up from the Brewers before the deadline, team officials talked of him one day serving a super-utility role, similar to what Kiké Hernandez has done so successfully in Los Angeles. While Dubon currently looks slated for the starting job at second base, he will get work in center field during spring training.
At the start of last spring, Duggar was the only one in that group who was part of the organization. Zaidi added Pillar to the mix after he struggled in five games with the Blue Jays early in the year, and the veteran ended up being an integral piece for the Giants.
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Pillar hit 21 homers and drove in 87 runs in 156 games for the Giants, but there were underlying numbers that concerned the Giants as they looked towards the future. Pillar, who turns 31 in January, ranked second-to-last among qualified NL hitters with a .293 on-base percentage, walking just 18 times all season at a time when the Giants are preaching plate discipline throughout every level of the organization. While he made plenty of highlight-reel grabs, Pillar was worth negative-5 Defensive Runs Saved, per FanGraphs, and ranked 12th out of 14 qualified NL center fielders in the SABR index used for Gold Glove awards.