The Boston Red Sox will be sellers at the upcoming trade deadline, and outfielder Kevin Pillar is one player that will be in the Cubs’ Theo Epstein’s price range.
It seems hard to believe, but the Chicago Cubs are less than one week away from the August 31st trade deadline. One team that may look to get an early start on a rebuild are the Boston Red Sox (9-20, 5th AL East) who are off to one of their worst starts in the past two decades. An affordable option for Theo Epstein to keep his eyes on is veteran outfielder Kevin Pillar.
According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Red Sox have “no untouchables” on the trade market. Of all the possible players to acquire from Boston–Pillar to the Cubs makes the most sense.
The Red Sox outfielder is in the midst of a one-year, $4.25 MM deal (not including salary adjustments to the shortened season). There is no reason for Boston to hold onto a soon-to-be free agent in a season where they will not be contending for a championship.
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The Cubs certainly do not have the type of farm system they once did a few seasons ago, but they still have enough mid-tier prospects to make this type of trade happen. It does not seem like Epstein will be able to reach into his bag of tricks and make some magic happen to trade for someone like J.D. Martinez.
The fact of the matter is they do not have top prospects, and even if they decided to trade a member of the core group of players, none of them are performing at a high enough level where Theo would get what he wants in return. Instead, they will likely have to settle for a deal like this, but it would not be the worst thing and still improves a Cubs team that is 18-10 and sitting in first place despite some struggles.
Pillar provides excellent outfield defense, and more importantly–would be the leadoff man the Cubs have desperately needed since the departure of Dexter Fowler nearly four seasons ago.
Sure David Ross could continue to bat Ian Happ at the top of the lineup and hope for the best, but why not go after someone who has been a proven leadoff hitter in the big leagues? There’s no telling how long Happ will be able to continue his strong start, and he has slowed down a bit in his last seven games while batting leadoff: 5-for-23 with seven walks and four strikeouts.
Pillar is slashing .277/.340/.454 with a .793 OPS this season and is a career .280 hitter against left-handed pitching, another area the Cubs have struggled in this season: vs. LHP .209/.330/.333 with .664 OPS.
There is an excitement and energy Pillar brings to the ballpark, and this type of spark would make him an excellent fit for a Cubs team that feeds off energy to win games. The veteran outfielder also has playoff experience from his days with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2015 and 2016.
The salary and statistics of Pillar make now the perfect time for Epstein to pull the trigger and bring him to Chicago.