Giants trade for Pillar, send 3 players to Toronto

April 3rd, 2019

LOS ANGELES -- The Giants added another veteran reinforcement to their young outfield on Tuesday, acquiring from the Blue Jays in exchange for right-handers Juan De Paula and and infielder .

Outfielder was designated for assignment to clear a spot for Pillar on the 40-man roster.

Pillar had been linked to the Giants throughout the offseason, as San Francisco had been looking to add a right-handed-hitting complement to in center field. No trade materialized between the two sides before the end of Spring Training, and the Giants opted to instead carry Reed, who started in right field on Opening Day but went 0-for-8 with six strikeouts over four games.

Pillar was the longest-tenured Blue Jay, but Toronto has entered a rebuilding phase and wanted to clear the way for outfield prospect Anthony Alford to ascend to the Majors.

“He was a pretty natural fit, and we were in pretty constant communication with Toronto,” president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said. “I think from their standpoint, seeing some of their younger outfielders emerge in Spring Training and play well in the first few days of the season probably gave them a little bit more confidence to make the move than they had earlier in the offseason. I think that dynamic was part of what helped us make this move.”

Pillar, 30, will see more time in the corner outfield spots with the Giants and will help spell Duggar in center field, giving San Francisco an elite defensive tandem that should be able to cover plenty of ground at Oracle Park. A lifetime .260/.297/.396 hitter, Pillar has recorded 63 Defensive Runs Saved over his career and is known for his highlight-reel grabs. He will not be eligible for free agency until after the 2020 season.

“That was a big goal for us this offseason, improving our outfield defense after it was objectively not very good last year,” Zaidi said. “With some of the pitching we brought in, guys like [Drew] Pomeranz and [Nick] Vincent, who are fly-ball pitchers, part of the thought process of bringing those guys in was having them be in a position to take advantage of the park. Having good outfielders out there to run balls down is only going to compound that in a positive way.”

Pillar flew from Toronto to Los Angeles after the trade was announced Tuesday and didn’t arrive at Dodger Stadium until after the first pitch. Manager Bruce Bochy said Pillar is likely to start in right field against the Dodgers on Wednesday, alongside Duggar in center and veteran Gerardo Parra in left.

“I think that’s a pretty good outfield, don’t you?” Bochy said. “These guys are plus defenders. It’s a nice luxury to have.”

Pillar has made only nine career starts in right field and has not played there since 2015, but Bochy said he prefers not to move Duggar, who has impressed early this season. Pillar’s arrival is not expected to impact Duggar’s playing time, but Bochy said it will be tougher to find at-bats for utility player Yangervis Solarte, who had been providing coverage in left field.

“It makes it a little easier to give Duggar some rest against certain left-handers, give him a break, but Duggar is going to get his playing time,” Bochy said.

“But I think [Pillar] can help out, especially in our ballpark, in the big outfield. To have a couple center fielders out there is going to be pretty nice.”

Zaidi said the move for Pillar shouldn’t be interpreted as an indictment on Reed, who was acquired in the final week of Spring Training and never got a chance to fully acclimate himself to the Giants.

“It’s tough and it’s unfair to him to say this was a judgment on his eight at-bats so far,” Zaidi said. “I take responsibility for putting him in a tough spot coming into camp so late. Having to familiarize himself with the organization, being out there on Opening Day, it was a lot of moving parts and a lot of pressure on him. So I definitely don’t think what we saw is indicative of his ability. I hope we get a chance to keep him in the organization.”

De Paula, who was ranked the Giants’ No. 19 prospect by MLB Pipeline, has a 2.47 career ERA in the Minors, but he has not pitched above Class A. The Giants acquired the 21-year-old pitching prospect from the Yankees last summer as part of the Andrew McCutchen trade.

Law, 28, was outrighted off the Giants’ 40-man roster over the offseason after posting a 7.43 ERA over seven Major League appearances in 2018.

Hanson, 26, was designated for assignment last week after failing to make the Giants’ Opening Day roster. The speedy infielder batted .252 with a .699 OPS in 110 games with San Francisco last season.

When a player's contract is designated for assignment -- often abbreviated "DFA" -- that player is immediately removed from his club's 40-man roster, and 25-man roster if he was on that as well. Within seven days of the transaction (it was previously 10 days), the player must either be traded, released or placed on irrevocable outright waivers.