Red Sox

Red Sox Notebook: Sox nearing agreement with FA outfielder Kevin Pillar

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- With an all lefthanded-hitting outfield and depleted depth at the position, the Red Sox are finalizing a deal with free agent Kevin Pillar, according to an industry source.

The deal is believed to be for one-year major league contact.

Pillar, 31, was dealt from the Toronto Blue Jays to the San Francisco Giants at the start of last season. He slashed .259/.287/.432 last year with 21 homers and 88 RBI in 156 games with the Giants before being non-tendered after the season.

He would join an outfield in which all three regulars -- left fielder Andrew Benintendi, center fielders Jackie Bradley Jr. and newcomer Alex Verdugo in right -- are lefthanded. Pillar can play all three outfield spots, though most of his career has been spent in center.

Pillar could platoon with Bradley in center, provide experienced depth at the two corner spots, or perhaps, clear the way for the Sox to move Bradley in a deal.

Over his career, he's hit .281/.313/.453 against lefties. One issue is that he almost never walks, which is reflected in last year's low on-base percentage. In 611 at-bats, he drew just 18 walks for a 2.8 percent walk rate the lowest of his seven-year career.

Defensive metrics suggest that Pillar has slipped some defensively, profiling as league-average in center field -- a dip from previous seasons when he was considered the equal of the likes of Bradley and Kevin Kiermaier in center.


Starter Chris Sale, who lives in nearby Naples, is now dealing with a case of mild pneumonia following a nasty one-week case of the flu.

"He's actually feeling really good,'' said Roenicke. "He's had this for about a week and a half. He threw (Tuesday) and he's going to throw again today, play catch. It sounds probably worse than what it is. But he said he a great night's sleep (Tuesday night), so he was really happy about that. He's going to come in here Friday and be re-evaluated and see where he's at.

"It's concerning because he's worked so hard to get himself to this point where his arm feels. He said it's the worst time to come up with the flu. We're going to go easy when he comes back and just make sure we're going through the right steps. I know it makes it sound like he's just going into the pneumonia, but really he's on the back end of this thing.''


Connor Wong is the third player in the deal that sent Mookie Betts and David Price to the Dodgers. He, like Jeter Downs, was part of the second iteration of the deal.

He's primarily a catcher, though he's also played second and third in his pro career.

"We haven't really talked about what they want to see out of me,'' said Wong. "I assume catcher because that's what I am. But I see myself as a guy who can help the team anywhere.''

Coming to a new organization, Wong will have to become familiar with a lot of different pitchers and do in a short period of time.

"It's only difficult in the aspect that it's going to take time,'' he said. "We have a month and a half before the season starts. That's the time frame I'm working with, so I'm going to have to get it done.''