Toronto Blue Jays: Kevin Pillar trade a reminder of continuing change

Kevin Pillar #11 of the Toronto Blue Jays at bat during MLB game action against the Detroit Tigers at Rogers Centre. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Kevin Pillar #11 of the Toronto Blue Jays at bat during MLB game action against the Detroit Tigers at Rogers Centre. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Blue Jays have traded fan favourite Kevin Pillar to the San Fransisco Giants in exchange for a trio of players

The Toronto Blue Jays have traded Kevin Pillar to the San Fransisco Giants, the team announced Tuesday.

In exchange, the Jays have acquired infielder Alen Hanson as well as pitchers Derek Law and Juan De Paula.

It’s the second time this week that the Jays have shipped out a mainstay on the roster. The team also moved Kendrys Morales to the Oakland Athletics less than 24 hours before Opening Day.

Pillar was selected by the Blue Jays in the 32nd round (979th overall) in 2011. It would take the West Hills, CA., native just two years to make his major league debut.

He would play his first game with the Blue Jays on August 14, 2013, going 0-for-4 on the day. However, he would make a diving catch in left field – an early sign of what Pillar would become famous for in Toronto.

A year later, however, Pillar’s future within the organization was in doubt. In a game during the 2014 campaign, former manager John Gibbons put Anthony Gose in to pinch hit for Pillar in a tie game with the bases loaded. Pillar would proceed to toss his bat down the tunnel. He would be sent to Triple-A Buffalo the next day.

Luckily for Pillar, he’d make his way back to the majors.

He would begin the 2015 campaign with a bang, taking a home run away from Tim Beckham of the Tampa Bay Rays.

From there, the legend of Superman began to grow.

In 2015, he would become an everyday player for the Blue Jays, making a career-high 159 appearances. As the starting centre fielder, he would have his best season as a pro, hitting .278/.314/.399 with 12 home runs, 56 RBIs, and 25 stolen bases while maintaining a .996 fielding percentage.

Pillar would become known for his solid glove and highlight reel catches. He’s managed to post over 50 RBIs in three of his past four seasons, but his strikeout rate rose with every passing year.

In 2018, Pillar hit .252/.282/.426 with 15 homers and 59 RBIs but finished with a career-high 98 strikeouts and just 18 walks.

After learning about the trade, Pillar spoke with the Toronto media.

The main piece of the deal is De Paula. The 21-year-old native of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic spent the entirety of last season playing A-ball. He accumulated a 2-3 record, a 1.72 ERA, and 1.22 WHIP in 52 1/3 innings split between Single-A Augusta and Low-A Staten Island.

This will be the fourth organization De Paula has been in since signing with the Seattle Mariners in the summer of 2014. The right-hander was ranked as the Giants’ 18th-best prospect in 2018, according to MLB Pipeline.

Law, 28, has spent the past three seasons in the bullpen with the Giants. He posted a 7.43 ERA and 5.34 FIP in seven appearances with San Fransisco in 2018.

Hanson is another utility player that will bring depth to the table for the Blue Jays. The 26-year-old has played around the diamond as well as the outfield over his three major league seasons. He hit .252/.274/.425 with 17 doubles, five triples, eight home runs, and 39 RBIs in 110 appearances.

Both players are on one-year deals and will be arbitration eligible for the next three years.

The trade allows the Blue Jays to call up top prospect Anthony Alford. He was supposed to be the man coming up from Triple-A to fill Kendrys Morales’ spot on the roster, but the team made a last minute switch and recalled Rowdy Tellez.

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins also talked to veterans today to ask if they wanted to be notified if the team was in talks to trade them.

The team has made it clear this week that they are open for business and fans should be ready for changes at any point, as it appears as though management isn’t waiting until the deadline to do business.

Next. Blue Jays: Stroman shines in first start of 2019 season. dark

What do you think of the trade? What is your favourite memory of Pillar’s tenure with the Blue Jays? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!