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Veteran outfielder Pillar joins Red Sox at camp

@IanMBrowne
February 14, 2020

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Rumored to be joining the Red Sox for the past several days, Kevin Pillar appeared in the team’s clubhouse shortly before Friday morning’s workout and even took some swings in the indoor batting cage. The veteran outfielder signed a one-year contract with the Red Sox, the

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Rumored to be joining the Red Sox for the past several days, Kevin Pillar appeared in the team’s clubhouse shortly before Friday morning’s workout and even took some swings in the indoor batting cage.

The veteran outfielder signed a one-year contract with the Red Sox, the team announced Friday night. The deal is for $4.25 million, a source told MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand.

The acquisition of Pillar makes a lot of sense. For starters, newly acquired outfielder Alex Verdugo might miss Opening Day due to a back ailment he suffered last season.

And even once Boston is at full strength, the right-handed-hitting Pillar is a perfect complement to a starting outfield that features all left-handed hitters in Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley Jr.

“Obviously, he's a great player, and has been a great player for a long time,” said Red Sox first baseman Mitch Moreland. “He's a great outfielder who has probably robbed everybody in the clubhouse with his years in Toronto. It'll be a great match for us, obviously, a right-handed bat in the outfield with a pretty lefty-heavy lineup.

“He plays the game the right way, plays hard. That's a solid add for our team. He's going to make us that much better. It'll be fun to watch him and Jackie out there, diving and robbing.”

While Pillar’s primary position is center field, he has experience at all three outfield spots. Somewhat stunningly, he has never won a Rawlings Gold Glove Award. But Pillar was selected as Wilson’s Defensive Player of the Year for center field in 2015.

Highlight reels are stacked with the great plays Pillar has made since starting his career in 2013.

“We know he doesn’t mind laying out, crashing into walls,” said Boston interim manager Ron Roenicke. "Sometimes you get a little worried when a guy does too much of that because you have the injury factor, but he knows how to play. I’m not sure if the metrics on him are the same as they were five years ago when he was probably faster. But he’s always been a good defender.”

The 31-year-old Pillar had played his entire career with the Blue Jays before he was dealt to the Giants in the first week of last season. With San Francisco, Pillar belted a career-high 21 homers and had an OPS of .735 over 156 games. Overall, he played 161 games last season.

“Aggressive. Knows how to play the game,” said Roenicke. “I wasn’t real comfortable when he came to the plate in big situations. I thought he gave a nice at-bat.”

A regular the last five seasons, it will be interesting to see how Pillar adapts to more of a complementary role once Verdugo is cleared to play.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.