As any Giants fan will attest to, the Giants needed help in the outfield. General Manager Farhan Zahidi knew this and tried to address it with acquisitions of Connor Joe and Michael Reed. It’s clear after six games those acquisitions weren’t panning out. The Giants have needed a competent outfielder since they last won the World Series in 2014 and Zahidi filled a major need by acquiring Kevin Pillar.
Let’s get one thing straight, Pillar isn’t a super star who will hit 25 home runs or hit .300 but he’s a competent outfielder, something Giants fans have been clamoring for. Pillar is coming off a season where he hit 15 home runs, had 40 doubles, batted .256 and slugged .426 (a career high). Those numbers don’t sound great when you include he walked just 18 times in 512 at bats last season, but that’s not the point.
The point is the Giants get a player who is an average to above average big league hitter who has been an elite defensive player throughout his career. Since 2015 when he became a full time starter in center field, Pillar’s defensive WAR has been 2.8, 2.7 and 1.9. Because of his defensive numbers Pillar has put up WAR numbers of 4.9, 3.5, 3.0 and 2.5. Pillar’s defense did start to decline last season, but he’s still plenty good enough to play any outfield position.
Considering what the Giants gave up for Pillar, Juan De Paula, Derek Law and Alan Hanson it’s safe to call this highway robbery by Zahidi. None of them were major impact players for the Giants and it’s expected that Pillar will give the Giants what they have been desperately needing, an outfielder who can hit and play above average to elite defense.
If the first six games tell us anything, it’s that the Giants pitching staff (rotation and bullpen) is back to 2010 levels. With an elite rotation and bullpen all the Giants needed to do was be an average offense and they would win 85 plus games. Zahidi is hoping Pillar helps stabilize a Giants lineup that so far looks to be pitiful like it’s been the last couple seasons.
Pillar won’t be the last move Zahidi makes while looking to improve the Giants. He’s a very aggressive General Manager who won’t shy away from making trades if necessary. Bringing Pillar in now allows Zahidi to get good insight into how the team is hitting and if he feels the Giants will be competitive this season.
Zahidi knows the Giants have the pitching staff and bullpen to compete with the top National League teams, but he also knows the Giants lineup might not be good enough. What happens the first half of the season will certainly shape the future of the Giants franchise. If they are hanging around .500 Zahidi will more than likely make trades intended on helping the team make the playoffs, but if the Giants are 7 or 8 games back at the All Star Break I would imagine Zahidi would trade away multiple veterans and look to rebuild.
Six games is not enough of a sample size to figure out how good the Giants will be. One thing is clear though, Zahidi will not hesitate to make moves and Pillar should give the Giants exactly what they need, a quality outfielder who can play any position.